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Welwyn Garden City


Hertfordshire Regional Planning Report 1927

Author: W. R. Davidge

First published: 1927 by Vacher & Sons Ltd, Westminster, for the
Hertfordshire Regional Planning Committee

Format: Hard covers 12" by 9½" with 102 pages

The report is illustrated with 5 charts or graphs, 30 monochrome photographs, and 24 maps including a large fold-out map in colour showing the routes of proposed roads. All these, and the full text of the report are reproduced below. The charts, graphs and maps can be enlarged by clicking on the images.

I have provided links in the Contents which enable you to jump down the document to a particular section, and then back again to Contents, which should avoid the need for a lot of search-scrolling.

To those interested in garden cities, I refer the sub-section on Satellite Towns and the section entitled Future Policy.

Front cover



Title Page









      The Soil of the County
      Economic Geology

      Growth of Population

INDUSTRY (click)
      Market Gardening


      Public Road Services



ROADS (click)
      Arterial Roads Constructed or in process of Construction
      Arterial Roads under Consideration


MAP illustrating new proposals (click)

      Cross-Country and Diagonal Roads
      North and South Roads

      Water, Gas and Electricity Supply
      Natural Water Supply

      The Development of Village Communities
      Satellite Towns
      Dormitory Towns
      Shopping and Market Centres

      Proposed Open Spaces
      Mid-County Green Belt
      Middlesex Boundary Belt
      Private Parks
      Private Golf Courses
      Protection of Streams
      Park Ways
      Existing Public Open Spaces
      Public or Private Playing Fields
      Public Playgrounds

      Control of Advertisements
      Petrol Stations
      Roadside Tree Planting






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The thanks of the Regional Committee are tendered to the many individuals, public departments, local authorities and public service companies throughout the Region, who by the provision of information and statistics have materially assisted in the compilation of this Report.

The great railway companies, the Lee Conservancy Board, the Grand Junction Canal Co., the First Garden City, Ltd. (Letchworth), the Welwyn Garden City and many others have assisted in this way. The thanks of the Committee are particularly due for the invaluable assistance and support of the County Surveyor, Lt.-Colonel A. E. Prescott, D.S.O., M.Inst.C.E., of the Clerk of the Peace, Sir Charles Longmore, K.G.B., as Secretary of the Committee, and W. R. Davidge, Esq., F.R.I.B.A., their Consultant.



Map of the County of Hertford in the year 1777

(click the above image to enlarge)

For anyone particularly interested in this map I have provided a higher resolution version which is slightly clearer and can be viewed by clicking here. Please note that the size of this better version is over 4 megabytes. For a normal enlargement (less than 1 megabyte) click on the image above.


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REGIONAL Planning, hardly twenty years old, came into existence from two parents - Local Government and the Town Planning Acts of 1909-1925. The former is ancient, historical and deeply-rooted in our national life; indeed, it is more ancient than national government. It dates back from times when inhabited areas were separate and even hostile, and had little or no relations with each other or with central government. Local and central government have long since determined their mutual powers, and the movement of political life is towards the increase of responsibility of Local Authorities accompanied by a strong central control.

The number of Local Authorities in England and Wales is approximately eighteen hundred, and their status varies from County Boroughs, Boroughs and Urban Districts to Rural Districts, each endowed with appropriate powers. Besides these there are the County Councils, whose authority extends to a whole county.

A generation of students of local government have been making suggestions for the creation of new local government units of a larger order called "Provinces" or "Regions." These units would, in the mind of such thinkers, be framed on physical conditions rather than historical tradition. Few counties are "self-contained" in natural or economic aspects, and, coming to the urban and rural districts, there is often nothing to indicate why one should cease here or begin there. The new idea was to find or to recognise "Regions," which in Nature, Economics and Social Development, displayed a certain large unity; and the aim of such study was to move towards local political government of a far more responsible character than was, or is, possessed by the present Local Authorities.

Modern town-planning legislation began in 1909 and reached a more advanced stage in 1919, coincident with the Housing movement. Apparently, the two activities were regarded as distinct from one another, but their intimate connection ought to have been recognised. For houses have to be placed in or near workplaces and the problem of Regional Planning is intimately connected with the proper distribution of the population and its occupations.

Town planning, including housing development on a large scale, is now proceeding with great energy - though none too fast - throughout the country, and a new problem presents itself. Individual Local Authorities are bidden by the Town Planning Acts to produce schemes for their own areas, but immediately they begin to set about the task they find that their neighbours at the four points of the compass are much concerned with each others' plans. Roads, in the first place, come from and go to another area; arterial roads, made by the Ministry of Transport and the County Councils, come from remote places and have to be used and made the basis of local schemes of development which they cannot but influence strongly.

Here, then, the immediate need for some larger co-ordinating body presents itself. The solution has been found in the Regional Planning Advisory Committees, of which nearly fifty have been formed throughout the country.

The area of the Region is in most cases determined largely by experience rather than by any attempt to construct Local Government Regions afresh. As will be seen from this Report, the Hertfordshire Region coincides with the County boundary. It is sufficiently large to embrace lands of much variety. The County, in this case, makes an essentially satisfactory and convenient unit. The Local Authorities are in close touch with one another and with the County Council, and opportunities for co-operation in the fullest measure are presented to the inhabitants and Local Authorities alike.

The Regional Planning Committee has no power to compel development of any kind; it has the more potent function of studying, advising and conciliating the various interests. Its ultimate power is derived from the reasonableness and utility of its suggestions, which must emerge, not only from local needs, but from those of the County as a whole.

Experience in writing Regional reports has shown that tables of statistics are repulsive rather than attractive to the reader, and, further, that without close study the salient facts contained in the tables fail to emerge. Accordingly, in this Report all the information that is normally conveyed by means of tables has been shown graphically, so that the most essential points are grasped immediately.

It has been considered preferable in many of the diagrams to show percentages rather than actual amounts. In one of the agricultural diagrams, for example, the proportion of land under crops has been shown rather than the actual acreage, so that it is possible to compare the agricultural character of two areas of widely different size.



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  HEMEL HEMPSTEAD   H. F. Hebert, Esq., Risboro, Boxmoor.  
  HERTFORD   A. Purkiss Ginn, Esq., Queen's Road, Hertford.  
  ST. ALBANS   S. F. Beck, Esq., Waterways, St. Albans.  
  WATFORD   T. Rushton, Esq., Darley Dale, Watford.  

  BALDOCK   W. B. Raban, Esq., Norton Mill House, Baldock.  
  BARNET   F. W. Hackforth-Jones, Esq., Arkley House, Barnet.  
  BISHOP'S STORTFORD   J. S. Dockray, Esq., M.D., The Maples, Bishop's Stortford.  
  BUSHEY   Edwin Hunt, Esq., Sunnyside, Belmont Road, Bushey.  
  CHESHUNT   J. Cull, Esq., Flamstead House, Cheshunt.  
  CHORLEYWOOD   E. J. Franklin, Esq., Elm Tree, Chorleywood, Herts.  
  EAST BARNET VALLEY   R. A. Brown, Esq., St. Ronans, New Barnet.  
  GREAT BERKHAMSTED   T. W. Bailey, Esq., 210, High Street, Gt. Berkhamsted.  
  HARPENDEN   H. Otto Thomas, Esq., Byways, Ayres End Lane, Harpenden.  
  HITCHIN   J. H. Barker, Esq., Windmill Hill, Hitchin.  
  HODDESDON   R. W. Merchant, 28, Lord Street, Hoddesdon.  
  LETCHWORTH   W. H. Gaunt, Esq., O.B.E., Ladybarn, Letchworth.  
  RICKMANSWORTH   C. Barton Smith, Esq., Lindiswara, Croxley Green, Rickmansworth.  
  ROYSTON   Lt.-Col. E. C. M. Phillips, D.S.O., Earls Hill House, Royston.  
  SAWBRIDGEWORTH   A. P. Pyle, Esq., Willow Mead, Springhall Road, Sawbridgeworth.  
  STEVENAGE   Charles A. Day, Esq., St. Asaph, Stevenage.  
  TRING   J. Stenhouse, Esq., Harvieston, Tring.  
  WARE   H. S. Gilbert, Esq., Cambridge Villa, Watton Road, Ware.  
  WELWYN GARDEN CITY   (constituted 1927).  

  ASHWELL   H. F. Bowman, Esq., Field Lane, Letchworth.  
  BARNET   F. De'Ath, Esq., Holmlea, Furzehill Road, Boreham Wood.  
  BERKHAMSTED   Spencer L. Holland, Esq., Little Heath, Great Berkhamsted.  
  BUNTINGFORD   G. Scarborough Taylor, Esq., Cheriton, Buntingford.  
  HADHAM   J. S. Symons, Esq., Home Farm, Little Hadham, Ware.  
  HATFIELD   J. C. McCowan, Esq., Hatfield.  
  HEMEL HEMPSTEAD   Rev. A. C. Jefferies, Chipperfield Vicarage, King's Langley.  
  HERTFORD   Col. Abel H. Smith, Woodhall Park, Hertford (Chairman).  
  HITCHIN   Rev. F. H. Proctor, Kingswalden Vicarage, near Hitchin.  
  ST. ALBANS   W. B. Nott, Esq., Maynes Farm, St. Albans.  
  WARE   A. S. Bowlby, Esq., Gilston Park, Harlow, Essex.  
  WATFORD   J. Smith, Esq., Loom Farm, Radlett, Herts.  
  WELWYN   Sir Theodore Chambers, K.B.E., Welwyn Garden City.  

  E. B. Barnard, Esq., O.B.E.   J. C. McGowan, Esq.  
  Henry Brown, Esq.   Capt. E. T. Morris.  
  S. F. Beck, Esq.   A. Purkiss Ginn, Esq.  
  Sir Theodore Chambers, K.B.E.   A. E. Passingham, Esq.  
  J. Cull, Esq.   Sir Joseph Priestley, K.C.  
  J. S. Dockray, Esq., M.D.   T. Rushton, Esq.  
  H. E. Fern, Esq.   Col. Abel H. Smith (Chairman).  
  Lt.-Col. F. E. Fremantle, O.B.E., M.P.   H. Swann, Esq.  
  W. H. Gaunt, Esq., O.B.E.      
Sir Charles Longmore, K.C.B. (Clerk of the County Council).
  Lt.-Col. A. E. Prescott, D.S.O. (County Surveyor).  
  W. R. Davidge, Esq., F.R.I.B.A., F.S.I., A.M.Inst.C.E. (Consultant).


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The principal object of this Report is to safeguard the present amenities of the County of Hertford and to guide the inevitable future development along sound and well-considered lines. To secure this object it is essential that the interest of the people of the County in Hertford and its future should be aroused and stimulated, so that when the time arises for action to be taken, either for the preservation of large open spaces or amenities, or for the construction and improvement of roads, the Local Authorities may have behind them the united support of the County.

The general recommendations of the Regional Committee, for adoption so far as they are reasonably practicable, are summarised hereunder:-
  The Green Belt   1.
The permanent preservation of a belt of open country, including river valleys and woodlands, for the general benefit of the inhabitants not only of the County of Hertford, but also of the surrounding areas, and, at the same time, establishing a definite limit to continuous urban growth.
  Private Open
The preservation, where possible, of large estates as Private Open Spaces.
  Playing Fields
& Playgrounds
The provision of a definite allowance of playing fields and playgrounds for each and every community in the County.
of Amenities
The general preservation of the amenities and care for the beauties in which Hertfordshire is so rich, including the control of buildings, prohibition of unsightly hoardings, preservation of view points, of groups of trees of special note, and open spaces of acknowledged beauty.
  New Roads   5.
The reservation of the routes for the essential new roads and provision for road widenings necessary to facilitate road transport throughout the County.
  Zoning   6.
The proper allocation of land for residential purposes and for industry.
Satellite towns should be encouraged wherever the circumstances are favourable. Such a policy benefits not only the people of the County but the people of London and the Nation as a whole.
Finally, the Committee recommend that all those Authorities that have not already passed a resolution deciding to prepare a town-planning scheme should do so forthwith in order that the County and the Constituent Authorities, avoiding the repetition of mistakes made through lack of foresight in the past, may together advance towards efficiency and prosperity in the future.
The County Council have no town-planning powers and the only statutory authorities for town-planning purposes are the various Corporations and District Councils.


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the Region
The first step in Regional planning is to define the limits of the area. In some cases the boundaries are determined by geological causes as in the coal-mining districts of the north or by geographical limits as in the Manchester district, where the watersheds of the Mersey and the Irwell form the Region, or where an area is chosen about some great town whose sphere of influence extending round it forms a natural Region. But on whatever basis the area is selected, it will generally be found to contain, from the administrative point of view, a heterogeneous collection of Local Authorities. Such disregard of existing boundaries is often essential when deciding the area to be planned, but it carries with it serious disadvantages. The area is new and the boundaries but vaguely known to many; and the necessary information is more difficult to collect for an area which does not form an administrative whole.
Area as Region
There are, on the other hand very real advantages in taking an administrative area as the Region to be planned. This fact has been recognised by the Hertfordshire County Council, with the result that of all the counties in England, Hertfordshire is the first for which a Regional Plan has been prepared. The County occupies a position of peculiar importance, it lies between London and the rest of industrial England and through it run the main roads and railways leading from the Capital to the manufacturing cities of the Midlands and the industrial centres of the north.

Areas of Local Authorities

(click the above image to enlarge)


THERE are 36 Local Authorities in the Region, of which 4 are Corporations, 19 are Urban District Councils and 13 are Rural District Councils, and covering the whole County an area of 404,523 acres with a rateable value of over £2,000,000. Welwyn Garden City Urban District has been recently formed (1927) from the southern portion Welwyn R.D.


Rapid Growth
of Population




Perhaps it is for this reason, combined with the progressive policy of the County Authorities, that Hertfordshire has more through roads than any other county in England. Besides occupying this strategic position on the most vital lines of communication, in recent years rapid strides have been made in residential and industrial development in the southern part of the County. The population of the County of London has remained stationary for the last twenty years, but in the neighbouring counties is increasing very rapidly, especially in Hertfordshire, for the County offers distinct attractions to those seeking a home on the outskirts of London. There is charming country in which to live, the distance from London is not great; and the large number of main railway lines radiating from London through Hertfordshire have had a distinctly stimulating effect on residential development. These main lines appear on the map like the ribs of a fan, springing from London, their common centre; and were, when originally made, far beyond the needs of the County; they were made for through traffic, but being in existence, were easily and rapidly adapted to suburban uses when the need arose. A good railway service is essential to suburban development, and in Hertfordshire all the elements of such a service are potentially in existence. The pleasant scenery found in this part of the country, and the proximity to London, have been the greatest factors in the growth of Southern Hertfordshire, and it is to Southern Hertfordshire that the County owes its rapid increase of population.
The population chart on page 32 will show how the numbers have been growing in the past, and the curve of population, far from showing any declining tendency, is still climbing rapidly upwards.
  Necessity for
Herein lies the fundamental necessity for planning: to provide for and accommodate efficiently this swelling tide of population. The County Council are convinced that a comprehensive scheme must be prepared. And it is not sufficient to plan only for South Hertfordshire, where the greatest effect of the influx may be felt, but the whole area of the County must be taken into consideration. For at the present time the influence of London is extending more widely than ever. To-day the homes of London workers are not confined to the "Outer Ring," but are found in the very heart of the country. Many workers travel daily to and from the City, a total distance of fifty miles or more, and with the improvement of transport facilities this tendency will increase, until not only will the southern half of the County share in the growth of London, but the County as a whole.

Comparison of Areas and Assessable Values in 1926

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Scheme is

The Regional Advisory Committee for Hertfordshire has therefore been set up and a scheme for the whole County has been proposed to provide for the ultimate development which is bound to come. Without some co-ordinating body with which to consult, without some comprehensive scheme or report in which to look for information and advice, without some common basis on which to plan, the individual schemes of the Local Authorities will be at best mutually incompatible, and at worst mutually destructive. But when the main proposals for the future of the County have been formulated, then, and then only, can the Local Authorities prepare their schemes with confidence that their own proposals will rest on a sure foundation.


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  Area and

The area included in the Hertfordshire Regional Planning Scheme comprises the entire County of Hertford, 632 square miles in area.


The boundaries of the County are chiefly artificial with the exception of that on the east, which is formed by the Rivers Lee and Stort, and on a part of the north boundary by the Rivers Rhee and Ivel.

Agricultural Country - Aldbury


The Region, originally agricultural, is even to-day mainly so, though the advent of the railways made an appreciable change, large areas along the line of the railways developing as residential districts, particularly in the southern part of the County; the establishment of industries was also encouraged, perceptibly influencing the rural conditions of the surrounding areas, which tended to change their character gradually.


Two main types of scenery prevail in the Region, caused by the fact that the foundations of Hertfordshire are constituted of chalk and clay, resulting in a marked difference between the north-western part of the County, where typical chalk scenery is found, with rounded downs and deep river valleys and an absence of woods, and the southern area with its clay subsoil and well-wooded hills.

The central area is mainly a series of low undulating hills with wide, open valleys. In common with the rest of England, the County of Hertford was in former times much more thickly wooded than it is to-day, the forest of Middlesex having covered almost the whole area between the Colne and the Lee, and much of the forest of Chiltern was also contained in the County. Traces of these forests still remain, and the County is, on the whole, well-wooded wherever the chalk is covered by some other formation. Generally speaking, the land in Hertfordshire has too high a value for afforestation.

Topographical Map

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THE highest point in the County is Marlin Hill, on the Bucks border, which is 769 feet above sea-level. The lowest point being in the Lee Valley near Cheshunt, where the level is 61 feet above Ordnance Datum.

Hills and

Owing to the lack of hard rock in its geological formation, Hertfordshire has none of the features of a mountainous district, but shows a pleasant diversity of hill in the chalk areas and low, pastoral country where the clay occurs.
  Height above
Being of a comparatively soft nature, the chalk hills have been worn down by the action of the elements until few abrupt features remain. In the southern part of the County, where the hills are often covered with a layer of clay or gravel, they are, for the most part, well-wooded, but in the north typical down scenery is found - low rolling hills with few woods. The table of comparative heights printed below, will serve to give an idea of the elevation above sea-level of the higher parts of the County.
Marlin Hill   769
Aldbury Common   664
Therfield   549
Bushey   506
Barnet Gate   465
Weston   431
Markyate Street   418

There is a certain simplicity in the geological structure of Hertfordshire. The strata lie in regular layers, sloping gently downwards from the high land in the north-west towards the south-east. Of all the formations the chalk layer is the most important, and it follows the general slope downwards from Hitchin to London. It is exposed in the north-west, partly covered in the centre, and dips under the London clay in the south-east. Under the chalk is a layer of gault, which only reaches the surface in the extreme north-west of the County. It forms an impervious layer beneath the porous chalk above and, consequently, the whole of the north-west and central parts of the County constitute a natural reservoir. Water accumulates in the interstices of the chalk, sinks to the level of the gault, and being unable to penetrate further, flows down the gentle slope towards the south-east.

In the more southern districts the clay lies over the chalk, impounding the water beneath and preventing it from rising unless an artesian well be sunk, when the pressure will force the water to the surface. Apart from its quality as a water collecting material, chalk is the most important formation in the County because it covers by far the greatest area. Almost the whole of the north and west are chalk, and with the exception of a number of isolated deposits of Woolwich Beds on the surface, it stretches uninterruptedly to a line through Bushey, Hatfield and Bishop's Stortford. Here it is separated from the London clay by a narrow belt of Woolwich Beds, although continuing beneath the surface to the boundary of the County and beyond. Along the river valleys the chalk is covered by a deposit of alluvium.

Geological Diagram
[Page 25 as referenced in the text]

(click the above image to enlarge)


Chalk is burnt for lime in various parts of the County, notably at Hitchin, and is also used by the farmers for agricultural purposes. The chalk districts of the County produce excellent corn and perhaps the finest malting grain in all England, although the surface soil contains a large number of flints. The flints are still used for road metal, and in former times flint was extensively used as a building material.

The Woolwich Beds, a tertiary formation, consist of layers of clay alternating with pebble beds. Hertfordshire "pudding-stone" is said to have been formed from a similar deposit and was at one time used for making hand millstones or querns.
London Clay

The London clay is better suited for growing grass than corn, and is capable of producing fine crops of hay. Although blue in colour, bricks made from this clay turn a pale yellow on burning.

Brick-earth deposits are found scattered throughout the chalk country, and compensate for the comparative paucity of good building stone. Many of the glacial deposits yield an earth from which are made bricks of a very good quality and having a fine red tint without the aid of extraneous colouring matter. Very hard bricks of a purple colour are made at Pepperstock, on the County boundary near Luton, and have been largely used in the north-western parts of the County.

Tiles made from brick-earth form the natural roof covering for Hertfordshire houses not only because they can be, and are, produced locally, but also because when properly used they give a charming effect and are in keeping with the traditions of the County.
Gravel and

Valuable deposits of gravel and sand are found well distributed throughout the County.

Building stone is not of frequent occurrence, but a sandy limestone, called Totternhoe Stone, lies in a comparatively thin bed beneath the chalk in the northern part of the County and used to be quarried at Totternhoe near Dunstable, Bedfordshire. Within the County this formation stretches from Tring to Pirton and Ashwell, and many of the churches and other buildings near the northern boundary were constructed of this stone.

Gault is found only in the extreme north-west, where there is a natural site for cement works. Here the gault and chalk are found exposed side by side, so that they may be conveniently quarried, mixed together and burnt to make Portland cement. Comparatively little commercial use has, however, been made of this possibility.

The general direction of the rivers is south-eastward, following the fall of the geological formations.

The chalk hills north of Hitchin form a particularly fine watershed, dividing the Thames (Colne and Lee) catchment area in which practically the whole of Hertfordshire lies, from that of the Great Ouse, into whose basin flow only a few comparatively small streams, such as the Purwell and Hiz.

The remaining rivers belong to the Thames drainage area, and form two main systems, that of the Colne draining the western Region, and the Lee the north and east areas.

The watersheds between run in a north-westerly to south-easterly direction. About three-quarters of the area of the Region is drained by the Lee and its tributaries the remainder being drained by the Colne and the Ver, with the exception of an area of approximately two square miles south of Hatfield, the drainage from which disappears into swallow-holes in the chalk.

Of the small subsidiary streams that flow down the tertiary escarpment either into the sea or the Colne, the chief is the Mimmshall Brook.
River Lee

The River Lee, the largest river in the County, originates in a marsh at Leagrave, a little to the north of Luton in Bedfordshire. The upper part flows down the dip-slope of the chalk from East Hyde, where the river enters the County in the valley north of Harpenden, to Wheathampstead and Brocket, where it forms an artificial lake.
  Rivers Beane
and Rib

At Hatfield it is deflected along the foot of the tertiary escarpment, flowing by way of Essendon and the north side of Bayfordbury Park to Hertford. Just before it reaches Hertford it receives the Mimram or Marran coming from Codicote, Welwyn, Digswell, Tewinwater and Hertingfordbury. At Hertford the Lee divides into two channels, one crossing Hartham Common and the other, which is navigable, flowing eastwards to Ware, on the west side of which its waters are augmented by those of the Beane and the the Rib.
River Ash

At Ware the river bends and proceeds in a direction parallel to its original course through a deep narrow valley to Stanstead Abbots. Above this village the volume of water is increased by the inflowing of the Ash, and below it by that of the Stort, which river is navigable northwards as far as Bishop's Stortford. At the confluence, the Lee valley widens and the river continues to flow south to Waltham Abbey, where it leaves the area, in a wide shallow valley.
River Colne
River Ver

The Colne rises near Colney Heath, between St. Albans and Hatfield, passing through London Colney to join the Ver, its most important tributary. The Ver, rising near Markyate Street, follows the line of Watling Street to Redbourn, where it is joined by an intermittent stream or "bourne" called the Wenmer, which crosses the Harpenden-Redbourn road at the foot of a steep descent. The Ver continues south by Shafford Mill to St. Albans, where it passes between the present City and the ruins of Verulamium, through the old nunnery of Sopwell to Colney Street, where it converges with the Colne.

River Gade

River Gade
River Bulbourne

South of Croxleygreen the Colne receives the Gade, which issues from the chalk near Great Gaddesden, passing through Hemel Hempstead and Nash Mills to Two Waters, where it unites with the Bulbourne, which rises near Tring and flows through Northchurch to the north-east side of Berkhamsted, where the water volume is augmented by two important springs. The Rivers Gade and Bulbourne were utilised in the construction of the Grand Junction Canal. The intermittent Hertfordshire Bourne flows into the Bulbourne between Berkhamsted and Boxmoor.

Owing to the variance in the saturation plane of the permeable chalk, some of the smaller rivers occasionally vary their source. The Ver, for example, in some years rises above Markyate Street, and in others below Redbourn. These variable rivers are generally called "Bournes." The Hertfordshire Bourne, occasionally a tributary of the Bulbourne, has sometimes been quiescent for so long a period as fourteen years.

The source of the Colne is also inconstant, being sometimes formed by a "bourne" which flows after heavy rains over the London clay, but when it leaves this impervious deposit for the chalk it ceases to flow on the surface, ending in a "swallow-hole" at Water-end. Floods sometimes result over the roads between Colney Heath and Smallford.



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With the advent of man, the ageless geological record ceases and the archæological record begins.
Palæolithic Age

Discoveries of palæolithic implements have been numerous, the first recorded being made in 1861 at Bedmond, in Abbot's Langley Parish, with further discoveries near Ayot St. Peter, Welwyn, Hertford, Bengeo, Ware, Amwell and more particularly at Hitchin. From these it would appear that the earlier men settled in the well-watered areas below the chalk hills, as the palæolithic instruments are found mainly in the belt of river drift and gravels running across the centre of the County.
Neolithic Age
Bronze Age

After the Palæolithic or river-drift period, there is a break of innumerable years in the archæological sequence of the County, till the surface stone or Neolithic period began. Remains belonging to the Neolithic Age have been found in various localities distributed over the County, and some relics of the Bronze Age, which developed out of the Neolithic Age, have also been found, notably at Cumberlow Green, near Baldock, and at Ashwell.

The Late Celtic period is represented by discoveries at Wigginton, Bourne End, Tring and Verulam, some pottery being found at Hitchin, but remains of this period are not at all common.
Roman Period

During the Roman period Hertfordshire appears to have been a well populated and wealthy district, forming a great part of the province of Flavia Cæsariensis.

Of Roman towns situated in the County the name of Verulamium only is known for certain. It was an important and well-developed place with the rank of a municipium, and was the centre from which many roads diverged, the routes of some of which are now mainly lost.

The site of Verulamium was unfortunately quarried extensively after the Roman period for the various Saxon settlements in the neighbourhood, some of the materials so acquired being used for the building of the Abbey and Church of St. Alban.

Other Roman stations were situated at Braughing and Cheshunt on a site a little to the south-west of the present town. Beside these three important stations, there were probably others near Baldock, Royston and Bishop's Stortford.

Several Roman villas, interments and coins indicate that the County was well settled during this period.

Numerous earthworks are present in Hertfordshire, but they are difficult to date. Possibly the most important is the Grimes-ditch, or Grimsdyke, of which there are traces at Berkhamsted Common, reappearing on the other side of the Bulbourne Valley; this forms a vallum extending from near Berkhamsted through the parishes of Northchurch and Wigginton to the north of Cholesbury Camp and thereafter into Buckinghamshire. The name possibly has a Saxon derivation, "Gramsdic," the Devil's Dyke, which seems to suggest pre-Saxon origin.

Other conspicuous earthworks are Brick-Bottom, lying between Verulamium and Sandridge, which is possibly Roman, though more probably connected with the encampment known as The Moats or The Stad. This is situated east of Wheathampstead, and forms part of a great system of earthworks of which the opposite side is defined by the Devil's Dyke at Marford.

Among the important historic monuments are :-
            Arbory Banks in the parish of Ashwell.
            Wilbury Hill in Letchworth parish.

The earthworks on the outer side of the Roman walls at Verulamium are pre-Roman, as is the camp near Redbourn known as Aubreys camp. Of Roman earthworks The Bank, at Cheshunt, is the most notable, supposedly constituting part of the boundary between the kingdoms of Mercia and East Anglia.

Sites of ancient forts are also still existent in the County, principally at Berkhamsted, Bishop's Stortford, Pirton, and Hertford. Berkhamsted Castle may have been built on the site of an earlier camp, the mound or keep, like those of Bishop's Stortford, Pirton and Hertford, being Saxon.

Anglo-Saxon remains in the County so far as is known at present, are comparatively few, of these the foundation of the Abbey of St. Albans is the finest that has partially survived subsequent history.

At the time of the Domesday survey, urban life seems to have been limited. Hertford had acquired importance by reason of the forts erected against the Danes settled at Ware in the early tenth century.

St. Albans and Berkhamsted had also developed through the influence of the Abbey and fortress, and trade was apparently beginning in the form of local markets.

Hertfordshire Towns 160 Years Ago

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For anyone particularly interested in these maps of St. Albans and Hertford, I have provided a higher resolution version which is slightly clearer and can be viewed by clicking here. The size of this better version is nearly 3 megabytes.
For a normal enlargement (about half a megabyte) click on the image to the left.

Population of
the County

Until 1891 the growth of the population was relatively slow, doubtless because the County maintained its rural character and developed no great industrial activity.

The diagram on page 32 shows the gradual increase from census year to census year up to 1891, at which point a change occurs and the curve begins to rise much more steeply, showing a great gain in population principally in the Southern portions of the County. Between the census years of 1911 and 1921, which, of course, include the period of the War, the gradient of the curve becomes less steep, but it recovers again after 1921 and rises sharply to the estimated figure for 1925. There is, at the present time, every indication that the rate of increase will not be diminished, but will continue in the future.

The chart on page 33 shows how the increase of population is distributed among the various administrative areas which constitute the County. The increase during the last intercensal period of 1911 to 1921 is shown expressed as a percentage of the total population for each area. The growth of Letchworth, no less than 93.5 per centum, is the dominating point conveyed, and shows how successful a well-founded satellite town may be. With the remarkable exception of Letchworth, the more rapidly growing districts are found in the southern part of the County, Chorleywood, Bushey and Watford taking the lead. In the rural districts of the northern and eastern part of the County, where, as the chart on page 42 clearly shows, agriculture is the chief occupation, a slight decrease in population is found to have occurred. Welwyn Garden City has not yet been long enough established to make its effect felt in the census returns, but the growth here has been even more phenomenal than in the case of Letchworth.

Population of Administrative Areas

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The Rise in Population
[Page 32 as referenced in the text]

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Distribution of the Increase in Population
[Page 33 as referenced in the text]

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Flour Mills on the River Lee - Ware


Industry in Hertfordshire can be divided into three distinct groups :-
            1. Agriculture.
            2. Market gardening.
            3. Manufacture.

Agriculture in
the Past
Changes in
Recent Years


Originally, Hertfordshire was essentially an agricultural county, and in the late eighteenth century was considered the first corn county in the Kingdom. Not only did it possess suitable soil and enjoy a favourable climate, but was near to London, which provided a ready market for the products and returned manures to the farmers. Owing to the general increase in the efficiency of communications, Hertfordshire no longer enjoys the same relative advantage of proximity to London, and competition is one of the causes contributing to the gradual decline in the production of corn. On the other hand, there has been an increase in the proportion of land under permanent grass; 26 per centum of the cultivated land was under grass in 1870, and 40 per centum in 1925. On the whole, however, there has been comparatively little change in the County from the agricultural point of view, although potatoes have been introduced into the rotation of crops on the higher soils and the general standard of fertility has been raised. The diagram on page 36 shows the changes that have taken place in recent years in the acreage under various crops. It shows how the area devoted to every crop has declined in the twenty years from 1906 to 1926, although bare fallow has somewhat increased. As regards present conditions, the proportion of arable land to the total acreage and also the proportion of permanent grass land to the total acreage are shown by the agricultural diagrams.

Proportions of Crops Cultivated
[Page 36 as referenced in the text]

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Comparison of Land Cultivation

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Arable Land
Proportion of
Arable Land

Considering first the arable land, the diagram shows very clearly how small a proportion of the land is tilled in the south and south-eastern portions of the County, and how more and more land is brought under plough as the northern boundary is approached. A comparison with the geological diagram on page 25 will show a marked degree of similarity between the two; where the chalk occurs there is arable land, but where there is London clay at the surface, little of the land is under plough. The chalk districts are excellent for growing corn and, above all, for malting grain, for which the County of Hertford has in the past been justly famed.
Grass Land
Proportion of
Land Under

The diagram overleaf gives the proportion of land under permanent grass. It is almost exactly a reversal of the diagram for arable land. Where the London clay is found in the south and south-east the proportion of land under grass is highest and becomes gradually less until it reaches a minimum in the neighbourhood of Royston.
Small Holdings

The Hertfordshire County Council have already provided nearly 7,000 acres of small holdings, which themselves secure valuable open spaces.

Small holdings can undoubtedly be made to pay, but only under favourable circumstances. Small holdings that are economically sound are a great asset to any Region, and should be actively encouraged. It is, however, doubtful, with the present high cost of building, if small holdings can in the majority of cases bear the cost of the necessary buildings, and it is suggested that wherever possible land should be chosen near a village, thus rendering the erection of a separate cottage on each holding unnecessary. There may be some cases where existing buildings suitable for alteration can be found in proximity to suitable land. Some degree of co-operation in carting and harvesting and in distribution of produce should also, if possible, be arranged, if small holdings are to be a success.
Experimental Farms

Situated near Harpenden, Rothamsted Research Station and Experimental Farm was originated in 1814 by Sir John Bennett Lawes. Seventy-five years later the Lawes Agricultural Trust was formed. In this body were vested the laboratory, the land and a large sum of money with which to carry on the work begun by the founder of the undertaking. At the present time a large acreage is devoted to agricultural experiments, and the results obtained at Rothamsted have been of incalculable value to the agriculture of England as a whole.

The Ministry of Agriculture are carrying out a considerable amount of organised research work at Harpenden.
County Council

The Hertfordshire County Council Agricultural Institute, established at Oaklands on the east side of St. Albans, has done much valuable work in educating students of farming in the latest developments of scientific agriculture.
Cultivation Under Glass

This has reached a high stage of development in Hertfordshire, particularly on the alluvial gravels above the Lee Valley, where the soil is suitable and the large amount of water necessary to this industry is available. At Cheshunt nearly 30 per centum of the men over twelve years of age are employed as gardeners or gardeners' labourers, and in the area to the south and east of Hatfield a number of new nurseries have lately been established.

Glass House Cultivation - The Lee Valley

Surrey Flying Services

Watercress Growing

Watercress is extensively cultivated in the central and western areas of the County, the method being in general to cut across the bend of a river by an artificial channel in which the cress is planted. A continual stream of water is kept running through the channel, and in the spring and autumn the crop is cut, packed in osier hampers and despatched to the market.
Lavender Growing

Near Hitchin a number of fields are planted with lavender, from which lavender water is distilled in the town itself.
Industries of
the Past

Hertfordshire has no valuable minerals of its own, and cannot be considered as primarily a manufacturing county. During the last fifty years a certain number of manufacturing and industrial establishments have been moved from London to Watford, St. Albans, Letchworth, and Welwyn Garden City, but they are not, as it were, indigenous to the County, and they incline to supplant the purely local industries, many of which are declining. For instance, until the latter half of the nineteenth century the straw plait industry in N.W. Hertfordshire gave employment to thousands of workers, who were able to proceed with the work in their own villages. Cheap labour in foreign countries has completely killed the local plaiting industry, although the manufacture of straw hats is still an important industry at St. Albans. Of the greater industries essentially native, malting, with its centre at Ware, is among the more important, Ware having been at one time the greatest malting place in England. Textile fabrics were also formerly manufactured in several parts of the County, but this industry is declining. There were at one time mills for the manufacture of silk and cloth at Rickmansworth, cotton mills at Sopwell and silk mills on the Ver as well as at Tring.

Factory industries are found in great variety in Hertfordshire. Owing to the lack of minerals there are many trades that have never been represented in the County but apart from these, the number of distinct industries is large, particularly in the lighter branches and in the furnishing trades. Of the native industries, paper-making and the malting industry are among the most important. King's Langley, Watford and Hemel Hempstead on the Grand Junction Canal are famous for the paper produced there. The malting industry is centred at Ware.

Paper Mills - On the Gade and Grand Junction Canal

Aerofilms Ltd.


Factory Development

A number of factories have been established beside the railways and canals, particularly in the neighbourhood of London, but the most interesting industrial development has taken place at Letchworth and at Welwyn Garden City. At Letchworth there are about fifty factories and workshops turning out a wide variety of work, including printing, bookbinding and the lighter engineering trades. At Welwyn Garden City a large area of factory sites is fully equipped with roads, railway sidings, power and other public services. Among the larger industries already established there, are an engineering works, a light castings foundry, a biscuit factory, and a factory for the production of prepared food. The self-contained "garden city," depending upon its own industries, constitutes a type of development very suitable to the County; the subject is discussed elsewhere in this Report.

New Industrial Areas
Zoning -

As regards industrial zoning from the Regional point of view, it is recommended that, generally speaking, land along the banks of the Grand Junction Canal and the River Lee should be reserved for industry, particularly in the southern part of the County near to London. Already there is a tendency to develop the banks of the Lee for bungalow building - a tendency to the ultimate disadvantage of the district, for the land will almost certainly be needed eventually for factories. The County will benefit by the utmost possible use of the canals for goods traffic. Useless for passenger traffic, they can yet relieve congestion on the railways by handling varied goods, leaving the railways free to deal with passengers. There are, however, a number of industries for which carriage by rail is more suitable than carriage by canal, and for these a number of areas alongside the railways will doubtless be zoned for industries under the individual schemes.

A survey has been made of possible sites for new towns at Aldbury and Bayford, and this will entail the zoning of a certain area for industries when detailed planning is undertaken.

Rural Industries

Of the rural industries that still survive, basket-making is one of the most important, and is found at Watford, Berkhamsted, Royston and Hertford, while willows are grown at Waltham Cross and wickerwork carried on in Hitchin.

The wood industries are represented by hurdle-making at Royston, and also near the Middlesex border, and by turnery at Bourne End, Boxmoor and Hemel Hempstead.

It is felt that the existing rural industries should receive every encouragement, one of the chief necessities being a central organisation to obtain orders and distribute contracts. This need has already been recognised and supplied in the case of blacksmith's work in Hertfordshire.


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In analysing the occupations of the people of Hertfordshire, it has been considered advisable to deal only with those employing comparatively large numbers of persons.

Comparison of the Four Principal Occupations in the County

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Agricultural Workers

Agriculture is still the chief industry of Hertfordshire, and a comparison with the four counties immediately surrounding London shows that the County of Hertford has the largest proportion of agricultural workers. The diagrams on the following pages
[above] show how agriculture occupies the pre-eminent position in the comparison between agricultural, building, commercial and professional occupations. As might be expected, agriculturists are found chiefly in the north and east, where there is a high proportion of arable land.

In the districts bordering on Middlesex in the south there are fewer persons employed in agriculture, but there is still a substantial proportion at Cheshunt, where numerous market gardens and nurseries are found. Indeed, nearly 30 per centum of the men in Cheshunt Urban District are employed as gardeners or gardeners' labourers, and a nursery garden area is also developing in the Hatfield district. Apart from these neighbourhoods, although the proportion of gardeners throughout the County is high, they are well distributed, which indicates that their occupation is mainly of a domestic character.
Metal and Electrical Workers
Metalworking and Electrical Occupations

There are no important centres of these trades in the County of Hertford, although there are a number of metal workers in both Hitchin and Letchworth.

Textile and Clothing Makers
Making Textile Goods and Clothing

Hertfordshire has a fair share of these industries; at St. Albans the boot and hat-making undertakings are noteworthy, and a large number of women are employed in hat sewing. Practically 10 per centum of the women employed in the whole County are engaged in making textile goods or clothing.


Paper-making and the allied industries of printing and of manufacturing stationery are found mainly in the south-west portion of the County. These occupations employ 5 per centum of the total number of female workers in the County.

Building Trades

The proportion of men engaged in building is very striking, being not only much greater than in any of the counties immediately surrounding London, but greater than in London itself. This fact serves to illustrate the great building activity recently displayed in Hertfordshire. It is remarkable that no special aggregation of men in the building trade is noted in any particular area, but that they are fairly well distributed throughout the County. This fact is illustrated on the preceding page
[above], which shows that only Baldock and Hoddesdon have above 3 per centum of their population engaged in building. The proportion in the other districts varies within the narrow limits of 1 per centum and 3 per centum.

It would not, perhaps, be wholly unjustifiable to draw two inferences from the above facts. First, the abnormal number of men engaged in the trade points to a large number of building organisations which exist at the present time and will tend to continue building in the same neighbourhood. Consequently, a high rate of building development seems likely to persist. Secondly, the wide distribution of those engaged in the trade suggests that development is going on all over the County and is not confined to the area near London.

Commercial Occupations

Persons engaged in commerce or public administration - such as clerks and warehousemen - are found less in Hertfordshire than in most of the other counties immediately surrounding London.

The diagram also shows that every borough and urban district in the County has a fair proportion of people so occupied, and further that this proportion is remarkably constant. The wide distribution of this occupation shows that those who follow it are not dependent on London for their work, but supply local needs. This being the case, it is not surprising that their numbers should bear a nearly constant ratio to the figure for the population.

The professional classes, on the other hand, are, as shown by the same diagram, grouped principally in the southern part of the County. Most of the professional people work in London, giving this part of the County its residential character. Over 10 per centum of the employed women living in Hertfordshire follow a professional calling, rather more than 5 per centum being teachers.

The proportion of the population working in London, irrespective of their calling, is shown by the diagram opposite. This proportion is naturally highest along the southern boundary of the County near London, but there are also districts with a high proportion comparatively distant from London, and in every case these districts are situated on one or other of the main line railways which radiate outwards from the Capital.

Migratory Workers

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Five Main

In the matter of main line railways, Hertfordshire, as has already been said, is well provided. There are no less than five of these, which, radiating from London, traverse the County on their way to the north. On the extreme west there is the joint line of the Metropolitan and Great Central Railway, which traverses the south west corner of the County, passing through Rickmansworth. Further to the east, the London and North Western main line from Euston runs through Watford, King's Langley and Berkhamsted, serving the western portion of the County and following closely the line of the Grand Junction Canal; the Midland through St. Albans and Harpenden, and the Great Northern through Hatfield and Stevenage, provide for central Hertfordshire, while the Great Eastern follows the eastern boundary in the valleys of the Lee and Stort.

Existing Transport Facilities

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THE diagram shows the principal railways radiating from London and the extensive system of omnibus routes in operation throughout the County. It should be noted that tramways only penetrate the Region at High Barnet and Waltham Cross.
(The enlarged file is quite big - nearly 2 megabytes; the quality of the original is not very good.)


For the sake of convenience the old titles have been adhered to in the description of the railways, but since the grouping has taken place, the Great Eastern, the Great Northern and the Great Central Railways have become the London and North Eastern Railway, while the London Midland and Scottish includes the old Midland and the London and North Western. Owing partly to the competition of the original railway companies and the desire of each for a London terminus, but chiefly to its geographical position between London and the rest of industrial England, Hertfordshire possesses an excellent and almost unique system of direct connection with London.

With so many main lines converging on the Metropolis, residential development has proceeded rapidly in the areas near to London, a good railway service being the first essential for the daily traveller.

The electrification of the outer suburban lines of the L.N.E.R. is rapidly becoming a necessity.

In the case of cross-country routes Hertford is not so well served; in the days when railways were being actively promoted there was no incentive to build cross-country lines except for the needs of the County itself, and consequently the railway service from east to west is in no way comparable with that from north to south. The principal cross-county line is that from Hertford to Luton, passing through Welwyn Garden City to Luton and Dunstable, and constituting a very serviceable potential east and west connection.

Sufficient use does not appear to be made of the recently constructed Enfield Stevenage line. This line has great potential value and the co-operation of the London and North Eastern Railway Company is essential if this portion of the County is to be adequately developed.

Quite recently a number of improvements have been carried out to the railways in the neighbourhood of London, many sections have been electrified, and in 1925 a new connection between Watford, Croxley Green and Rickmansworth was built. At the present time it is proposed to extend the Edgware line to Bushey, which will then probably be the terminus. Other improvements in railway service and communications will doubtless be made from time to time, particularly in the immediate neighbourhood of London.
Railways and

Local Authorities with town-planning powers have the advantage of being able to accept the benefits brought them by new railway developments while, at the same time, they can control and direct the outburst of building activity usually associated with a new suburban railway.

Traffic on Railways and Canals

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THE diagram shows the relative use of the railway stations in the Region, indicating to a certain extent the dormitory centres. The varied shading shows the approximate limit of the fare zones, calculated from the London termini. The relative importance of the wharves on the canal systems is also shown.


Hertfordshire is served by two Canals: On the west the Grand Junction Canal connects London with the north, passing through the County along the Bulbourne Valley; on the east the Lee Navigation leads from London northwards to Hertford with a branch, the Stort Navigation, to Bishop's Stortford.

Grand Junction Canal


The first Act for the construction of the Grand Junction Canal was passed in 1793, and from that date up to the present time continual improvements have been made in this waterway. Its importance is largely due to the fact that it forms the link between London and the canal systems of the Midlands, Lancashire and Yorkshire, so that the portion of it lying within Hertfordshire is more used by long-distance than by local traffic. Nevertheless, the Canal carries a very considerable tonnage to and from the Hertfordshire wharves, and the accompanying map shows in a graphic form the relative importance of the larger wharves. Much of the tonnage in the neighbourhood of Watford and Hemel Hempstead is due to a number of large paper mills which are situated alongside the Canal.
Canal Banks
Zoned for

In the case of the Lee, which affords direct communication between the eastern part of the County and the docks at Limehouse, the administration is undertaken by a Conservancy Board. Improvements in this waterway have been recently put in hand, so that barges of 100 tons burden which formerly could only proceed as far as Waltham will now be able to reach Hertford. Of late years there has been a decided increase in the number of timber yards situated on the Lee, and the probable cause is the high value of land in London, which tends to make timber merchants seek sites elsewhere. Canal bank sites are eminently suitable for such purposes, and it is urged that land bordering on canals should, in general, be reserved for industry. In the case of the Lee, bungalows have already been erected near the waterway, occupying land which will be needed eventually for industrial concerns.

It is clearly to the interest of the Region as a whole that both the Canals, being existing means of communication, should be used to their full capacity for that kind of transport for which they are most suited, and should take their part in the general scheme of communications. Heavy and bulky goods form the chief loads on our canals, and the rates charged compare very favourably with other modes of transport. From the industrial point of view, the Canals have a further advantage in that they can afford a copious supply of the water needed in so many processes, as, for instance, in paper-making.

The County of Hertford is particularly well served with public omnibuses, which cover not only the main roads, where they act as valuable feeders to the railways, but they also provide the most efficient method of cross-country communication. There is, however, ample room for further development of road services, especially in the routes across the County, which are not fully served by the various railways.

Tramways only penetrate the County from the Middlesex border, up the Great North Road as far as High Barnet, and up the London-Hertford Road as far as Waltham Cross, and as no local tramway systems exist elsewhere, this means of transport is relatively negligible.

The possibilities have not been overlooked of an extended system of light railways, not necessarily following the lines of the main roads, but designed with a view to serving the remoter agricultural districts, as has been done with success in many Continental countries. The steady improvement of the roads and road transport, however, tend to render the possibility of any such development improbable.

The diagram on page 47
[above headed Existing Transport Facilities] indicates the extent of the existing road services.


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The Evolution of the Road System

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THERE have been three marked periods of activity in road building in the County; the Romans founded the first fairly extensive system which remained practically unaltered till the Turnpike System originated in 1663. The third phase of development is now in progress.

Roman Roads

Many of the Roman roads have survived so well that they have remained the main highways of the country to the present day, and were maintained through the coaching period of road traffic till the advent of the railways, when some were allowed to deteriorate.

Watling Street enters the County at Elstree, whence it is continued through Colney Street, Park Street and St. Stephens to the site of Verulam near St. Albans, and so through Redbourn and Markyate Street to Dunstable, this route now being known as the Holyhead Road.
The Icknield

The Icknield Way may be the oldest of the three great tracks, being pre-Roman in origin. It crosses the County from the west, cutting Watling Street at Dunstable, thence leading in a north-easterly direction across Hertfordshire through Ickleford and Baldock to Royston, where it crosses Ermine Street and so leads to Newmarket.
Ermine Street

Ermine Street runs almost due north from the site of old London Bridge, entering the County at Waltham Cross and leading towards Ware. From Ware the line of the Roman Road is marked by the existing highroad through Puckeridge, Buntingford and Buckland to Royston, where it leaves the County for Huntingdon and the North.

Akeman Street runs from Stanmore Common to Watford, King's Langley and Hemel Hempstead, where it turns north-west to Tring, forming a junction with the Icknield Way immediately to the west of that town.
Stane Street

Stane Street enters the County east of Bishop's Stortford, crossing Ermine Street below Braughing, and originally led to Baldock, where it joined the Icknield Way.

An interesting road of very early origin and in close association with the Icknield Way is the ancient "Ashwell Stret," running east and west in the north of the County.
Roman Roads

Another road ran from Watford to Verulam, and appears to have continued through Sandridge, Welwyn and Stevenage, to Baldock, being known according to some authorities as the "White-way."

A valuable and interesting report was made in 1912 by the County Surveyor as to the Roman and pre-Roman roads in the County, in which detailed descriptions are given of all the roads.

An interesting paper dealing with the archæological aspect, by Sir John Evans, K.C.B., D.C.L., LL.D. ("An Archæological Survey of Hertfordshire"), also gives an account of the ancient roads. [See "Archæologia," Vol. 53.]

After the collapse of the Roman system, the roads were allowed to fall into decay and even in mediæval times the removal of obstructions such as fallen trees was all that was considered necessary in the way of upkeep. Certain improvements were carried out from time to time as the use of wheeled traffic became general, but right up to the end of the seventeenth century even the main roads were frequently so bad as to be positively dangerous. When Thoresby rode to London in 1695 he speaks of showers at Ware "which raised the washes upon the road to that height that passengers from London that were upon the road swam; and a poor higgler was drowned." But with the extension of the turnpike system, which originated with the erection in Hertfordshire of the first turnpike gate in 1663, a great improvement took place in the more important roads of the country.

A vast number of Turnpike Acts were passed, giving to groups of local landowners the power to make roads and charge tolls by way of remuneration. This system, though open to much abuse, finally led to the construction throughout the country of many thousand miles of main roads with a surface that was considered highly satisfactory at the time. It was, at any rate, sufficiently good to allow coaches to maintain a speed of ten or twelve miles an hour. One of the earliest and most famous of the regular coaches was that run by John Shrimpton in 1741 from London to Hitchin and Bedford via Hatfield, Welwyn and Stevenage.

By the early part of the nineteenth century Telford brought some of the turnpike roads to their highest pitch of perfection, partly through his power as an organiser and partly through his ability as an engineer. The Holyhead Road, following the line of the old Watling Street through Hertfordshire will always remain his most famous work. The diagram on page 51 shows which of the Hertfordshire roads were Roman, which were added in the turnpike era, and which are due to modern enterprise. Most of these latter, which are shown by a thin continuous line, are merely adaptations of old tracks or by-roads which had gradually come into being to serve purely local needs. The map shows clearly how tortuous many of them are and how they suffer from lack of planning. The most recent roads of all, those made under the auspices of the Ministry of Transport, are indicated by a double line on the map. Their easy curves, even when seen on a small-scale map, show that they are intended to serve a national rather than a local purpose.


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Finsbury Park - A Main Road into Hertfordshire


The motor traffic all over England is rapidly increasing every year, and statistics show that between 1921 and 1925 the yearly increases for Hertfordshire are greater in proportion than those for England as a whole. The Annual Licences graph shows by means of the upper curve the rise in the number of annual licences granted in Hertfordshire, and by the lower curve (on a reduced vertical scale) the corresponding licences for the whole of England. It is interesting to observe in both cases the great increase in the years 1923 and 1924 of the number of licences issued. After 1924 the yearly increase is not so great, but is proportionally much greater in Hertfordshire than in the rest of England. It is to provide for the steadily increasing number of vehicles that the road proposals contained in this Report have been formulated. Unless some such concerted plan of action is adopted, the County will, in the not very distant future, suffer severely from roads congested with traffic.

Number of Annual Licenses
issued for Motor Vehicles during the years
1921 to 1925

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THE yearly increase in the number of motor licences issued during a period of five years is more rapid in Hertfordshire than in England as a whole, possibly accounted for by extensive private car traffic in residential areas.


The diagram of Traffic Tonnage on the Classified Roads in the County shows an increase of nearly 100 per centum in two years, and emphasises, if emphasis is necessary, the need for action to be taken.

Traffic Census Diagram

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THE diagram shows the growth of traffic on the principal main roads. It will be seen that the weight of traffic in tons per day has practically doubled in two years. The light edge shows the actual increase.



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Arterial Roads - The new Watford By-pass



There are three new Arterial roads in the County of Hertford, covering a total length of approximately eighteen miles.
     1. Cambridge Arterial Road.
     2. Watford By-pass.
     3. Barnet By-pass.
1. Cambridge Arterial Road

A new highway running parallel with the Lee Valley, approximately a mile west of the old Cambridge road, enters the County on the Middlesex boundary and ends at Turnford, north of Cheshunt, where it joins the present London-Cambridge road. This road provides a direct uncongested route leading northward from London, relieving the traffic using the old Ermine Street through Cheshunt and Edmonton. The length of the new road within the County is roughly 3 miles. The width of the carriageway is at present 24 feet, the ultimate intention being to construct a duplicate carriageway separated by a central reserve of 20 feet. The total width reserved between fences is 100 feet.

The approaches at the London end of this road via Bruce Grove and Green Lanes are at present unsatisfactory, and every effort should be made to secure their improvement.
2. Watford By-pass

The completion of this proposal has created a new north-western outlet from London, which will provide extensive additional traffic facilities, and greatly influence the development of the areas through which it passes. This road leaves the Finchley Road near Lyndale Avenue in Hampstead, by-passes Stanmore, Bushey and Watford, and rejoins the London-Birmingham road at Hunton bridge, near King's Langley. The section of this road passing through the County is about six miles long, the width between fences being 100 feet, with a 30-foot carriageway and a grass verge on either side.
3. Barnet By-pass

The Barnet By-pass is closely related to that of the Watford By-pass, and for the first section the two roads coincide, dividing at Mill Hill. The By-pass will provide an alternative route to a long length of the Great North Road, avoiding the difficult congested areas of Finchley and Barnet, and will by-pass Hatfield, north of which it will rejoin the Great North Road at Stanborough. The road will cover a distance of about 8 miles through the County and have a width of 100 feet between fences. The importance of this road, as a new way out of London, linking up with the Great North Road, will be very great. It is much more than a by-pass to Barnet, and if the name were not already in use elsewhere, would be better described as the new "North Road."
4. Great North Road Improvement

The widening and improvement of this road to 60 feet throughout the County, with a 30-foot carriageway, will constitute an equally important improvement. In connection with this, a new by-pass to avoid Welwyn is under construction. A further by-pass north of Welwyn to take traffic to and from the Hitchin-Codicote Road is also under consideration.


In addition to the above three arterial roads already mentioned, two others are contemplated and the preliminary negotiations in hand.
1. The North Orbital Road.
2. The Harrow-Watford Road.
1. The North Orbital Road

The North Orbital Road is intended to provide greater facilities for traffic passing east and west across the County and to relieve London of some of the traffic at present passing through it. The North Orbital Road will commence in Essex at Tilbury, and by way of North Weald Bassett enter Hertfordshire near Hoddesdon, passing across the County north of Hatfield and Watford to Chorleywood, and thence to Denham, Iver and Colnbrook (Buckinghamshire). Its length in the County will be about thirty miles, and its probable width 180 feet. It will be possible to use existing roads widened and improved for certain sections of its length. A point that will require detailed consideration is the crossing of this road with the existing Cambridge Road in Hoddesdon.

Example of Necessary Road Improvement
Crossing of North Orbital Road, Hoddesdon


2. The Harrow-Watford Road

The Harrow-Watford Road starting in Middlesex from the north Circular Road near Park Royal Station on the Great Western line, by-passes Harrow and enters the County near the south-east corner of Oxhey Woods, and after covering three miles forms a junction with the Watford-Rickmansworth Road near Croxley Green Station. The width proposed is 80 feet. There is a further proposal for the extension of this road up the valley of the River Gade, to an intersection with the North Orbital Road and a junction with the Watford-Hemel Hempstead Road near Huntonbridge. This would form a complete alternative route from West Middlesex to the Birmingham Road west of Watford.


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Map of the County of Hertford showing Regional Planning Proposals

(click the above image to enlarge)

This map, the frame of which measures 23" by 19½", was folded and pasted inside the back of the report. The map is referred to in the following section on New Road Proposals and elsewhere in the Report. Click on the above image to enlarge to a size which should just about fill the screen. For a supersized image click here (large file over 2 megabytes).

The following annotations were beneath the bottom of the frame:

The 6" map showing the above proposals in detail is deposited with the Hertfordshire County Council and is available for the use of the Local Authorities.


Reproduced from the Ordnance Survey Map with the sanction of the Controller of H.M. Stationery Office.


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It is recommended that in all main roads of Regional importance, now classified as Class A roads, provision should be made for an ultimate widening to 60 feet between hedges, with a building line on each side of not less than 30 feet, and that in the case of second-class roads of Regional importance provision should be made for an ultimate width of 50 feet between the hedges, with 25 feet building lines on each side, and that all other roads of district importance should ultimately be widened to 40 feet between the hedges, with building lines of not less than 20 feet on each side.
Width and

The proposed roads are shown in red on the inset map. When these roads have been incorporated in the statutory plans of the constituent authorities, the strips of land over which they run are preserved against building operations. The actual construction of the roads themselves need not be undertaken until the necessity arises, but when that time comes the land still lies open and no costly compensation for the demolition of buildings will be involved. The width of the proposed roads is in general 60 feet, with a building line of 30 feet on either side, but where exceptionally heavy traffic is expected, it is wiser to reserve a width of 80 feet with a 40-foot building line. Needless to say, sharp curves and steep gradients have been carefully avoided in the layout and special attention has been given to the treatment of corners. The latter is, however, a question which will require careful consideration by the statutory planning authorities when drawing up their detailed schemes. It is suggested that a small green at road junctions not only adds distinctly to the amenities of the locality, but also appreciably reduces the danger at the corner. It has advantages which far outweigh the value of the small piece of land involved. A programme of roadside tree planting would also add considerably to the charm of the County; this matter is, however, dealt with in another part of this Report.

It is important that the traffic on the new roads should have as little interference as possible from vehicles entering by subsidiary routes, and to this end junctions between local roads and main trunk roads should be as few as possible, and generally not less than a quarter of a mile apart. This is particularly desirable where the subsidiary roads are of a residential character. In such cases an occasional connection between the residential settlement and the main road is all that is necessary.

The widths suggested for the proposed roads are 80 feet, 60 feet and, in a few cases, 50 feet, with building lines set back 40, 30 and 25 feet respectively. In the following description the 50-foot roads are marked with one asterisk, the 60-foot roads with two, and the 80-foot roads with three.
  * 50-foot roads, with 25-foot building lines
  ** 60-foot roads, with 30-foot building lines
  *** 80-foot roads, with 40-foot building lines

Owing to the influence of London in determining the direction of the roads, those leading north and north-west have always received much more attention than those leading east and west. The facilities for cross communication are, in some parts of the County, hardly sufficient for present needs and will certainly prove inadequate in the very near future. The North Orbital Road, although primarily intended to relieve the traffic congestion of London, will also be of use in the distribution of traffic throughout the County.



The existing road from Luton to Hitchin, Letchworth and Baldock, with its continuation along the ancient Icknield Way from Baldock to Royston, forms an important cross-country communication, which should be widened and improved as opportunity arises. A portion of the suggested Hitchin Ring Road, if constructed, would form a link in this line of communication.


** Welwyn-Puckeridge-Bishop's Stortford


A new east and west road is shown, leaving the Great North Road at the foot of Mardley Hill near Welwyn and crossing the railway under the viaduct south of Woolmer Green. From this point the line proposed runs in a north-easterly direction, passing south of Datchworth and between Benington and Hebing End to a point on Ermine Street immediately north of Puckeridge. After bridging the railway and the River Rib, and so avoiding the level crossing and village of Standon, the line follows the existing road to Bishop's Stortford. North of the town a by-pass is proposed utilising Parsonage Lane and leading directly to Dunmow and the Eastern Counties.

A continuation of the above diagonal route westwards via Water End and Coleman Green to Sandridge and St. Albans could, if necessary, be provided by a widening of the existing narrow lanes, but in view of the proximity of the North Orbital Road, when constructed, the westward extension of this route is not considered of primary importance.

Example of Necessary Road Improvement
The Ford - Water End



**(1) Hemel Hempstead Improvement

At Hemel Hempstead a new road is suggested avoiding the narrow northern portion of the High Street. The proposed road crosses the Piccott's End Road near Marchmont House and rejoins the existing road to Redbourn at High Street Green. From this point the road to Church End should be widened.

The proposed Hemel Hempstead By-pass, indicated by white line

Central Aerophoto Co.

**(2) Redbourn Improvements

From the Chequers Public House on Watling Street a short length of new road to Harpenden Lane would form a by-pass for Redbourn. A short link northwards is also desirable.

**(3) Harpenden Lane

Harpenden Lane should be widened as far as Harpenden.


Northaw and Waltham Cross

The south-east of the County is at present insufficiently provided with east and west communications. A new road is proposed from the Great North Road north of Little Heath, by-passing Northaw on the south and utilising the existing road to Colesdale, south of Cuffley. From this point the new road leads eastward to Waltham Cross and out of the County to a point east of Waltham Abbey, thus affording an opportunity for a by-pass to Waltham Abbey if the Essex Authorities so desire.

**Links with the above

A connection with the above route should be made from a point immediately west of the Hertford line (at Soper's Viaduct) to join the Ridgeway Road at Cuffley Hills. A short link to the Goffs Oak Road is also suggested.


(1) Rickmansworth, Moor Park and Watford

It is proposed to widen the existing road leading eastwards from Batchworth, along the northern boundary of Moor Park, thence to Hamper Mill and Watford by a widening of Hamper Mill Lane and Eastbury Road.

(2) Watford-Aldenham

By improving the southern end of the High Street near Watford Bridge, particularly at the corner near the railway arches, and the construction of a new road leaving the High Street slightly north of this point, leading under the Five Arches alongside the Colne, a valuable connection will be provided with the Watford By-pass, south of Aldenham. A useful additional approach from Watford could be made by a short link from St. John's Road, Watford. Water Lane, Watford, should also be improved.

Site of the Colne Valley Road, indicated by white line

Central Aerophoto Co.

(click the above image to enlarge)


(3) Aldenham-Colney Heath

It is proposed to by-pass Aldenham on the north-west, and by an improvement of the existing road north of Radlett to Colney Heath, form a valuable connection between the new Watford and Barnet By-passes.


(1) Little Oxhey Lane, Bushey Heath and Elstree Road

By linking up a number of existing roads a valuable east and west route can be made along the southern boundary of the County. Part of the line proposed lies inside the County and part outside, but negotiations have taken place with the Middlesex Authorities with a view to the preservation of the whole route. The first section consists of a widening of Little Oxhey Lane from its junction with the proposed Harrow-Watford Road near the County boundary. Shortly after crossing the railway the line of the road bends north-eastwards to meet the Elstree Road at Bushey Heath and thus to the Watford By-pass.

(2) Middlesex Section

From the point where the latter crosses Watling Street, and by-passing Elstree on the south, a continuation eastwards within the Middlesex area is proposed, linking up with the existing road to Barnet.

(3) Barnet Gate to East Barnet

From Barnet Gate the new road passes along the valley of the Dollis Brook to Pricklers Hill, this portion being included in the Barnet U.D.C. town-planning scheme.

By an improvement of the existing roads (Long Street, etc.) in East Barnet and a new link with Cockfosters Road, a valuable through line of communication to Enfield and Essex would be obtained.

**(1) Hadley Green to Cockfosters Road

From Dury Road, leaving the Great North Road at Hadley Green, a new road, included in the East Barnet Valley Scheme, is proposed to lead south-east via Tudor Road and under the railway to Cockfosters Road, linking up with the Southern Boundary Road just mentioned.

**(2) Eastern Barnet By-Pass

The East Barnet Scheme provides for a short but essential by-pass on the Great North Road avoiding High Barnet. This would relieve the High Street of much of its through traffic.

**(3) Pymme's Brook Valley Road

The valley of Pymme's Brook is capable of providing direct and easy communication between Southgate and East Barnet. The present route between the two places by Brunswick Park Road and Church Hill Road is tortuous and, in some places, dangerously narrow. The new road proposed would leave Southgate at the end of Alderman's Hill and follow the east bank of the stream to meet Brook Hill Road and also to make a connection with the Southern Boundary Road.



The new Cambridge Arterial Road leading from Wood Green and Tottenham to Wormley, has already been mentioned. A further continuation of this road is advisable in order to by-pass Broxbourne and Hoddesdon, and to provide direct communication with the existing roads to Hertford and Ware, north-west of Hoddesdon.


North-west of Hoddesdon the extension of the new Cambridge Road joins the North Orbital Road. By following this main artery to the east of Hoddesdon, the new link proposed to Rye Road, traffic from London to Bishop's Stortford would entirely avoid Hoddesdon. Rye Road should be widened for some distance then a short piece of new road made to avoid the awkward corners at Terbets Hill, near the Stanstead Oak, and from this point it is suggested the entire length of the road to Sawbridgeworth should be improved. The main road from Sawbridgeworth to Bishop's Stortford should be widened where possible, and northwards to the limit of the County.


**(1) Eastern By-Pass to Ware

An eastern by-pass to Ware is proposed, affording an improvement of the main road from London, which it leaves north of Great Amwell and following the general line of the Ware U.D.C. boundary and rejoins on the hill south of Wades Mill.

(2) Puckeridge By-Pass

The present main road through Puckeridge is unsatisfactory, and it is probable that a by-pass will eventually be required. A line on the western side of the village suggests itself.

(3) Buntingford By-Pass

Buntingford is an important centre, and although the existing main road is generally sufficient for present traffic, it is important in any scheme of development for the town that the possibilities of a by-pass on the west side of the town should be considered.

(4) Royston

The main road through Royston could be very effectively improved by the removal of the comparatively narrow row of buildings between the two existing roads, and thus provide the town with an unusually spacious High Street. If on investigation the difficulties prove too great for this course to be adopted, a by-pass road will undoubtedly have to be considered.

Example of Necessary Road Improvement
Royston High Street



A new route to Hertford is proposed, leaving the new Cambridge Road south of Cheshunt, utilising the proposed Waltham Cross-Northaw Road, from which a link would lead to Goffs Oak. The proposed road would then go due north, utilising the Newgate Street Road, and enter Hertford by Back Lane, which would be widened and improved.


A by-pass to Hertford and Ware on the north side is proposed, constituting an improvement of the existing east and west connection from the Great North Road to Ermine Street. The line suggested would leave the existing road at Port Hill, and following the direction of the River Beane, skirt the south side of Ware Park and form a junction with Ermine Street immediately north of Ware.


The widening and improvement of the Great North Road and the new Welwyn By-pass, already in course of construction, have been previously mentioned. In addition to these, the following further improvements should be taken into consideration in the preparation of local town-planning schemes.

(1) Knebworth By-Pass

A route for a by-pass on the east of Knebworth has wisely been suggested by Lord Lytton in the development plans of his estate, and although the widening of the Great North Road will to some extent reduce the urgency for this road, it should undoubtedly be included in any town-planning scheme for this area.

(2) Baldock Improvement

A short link road on the east of Baldock is proposed, connecting with the ancient Icknield Way, which will afford an opportunity for east-going traffic to avoid passing through the town.

**(3) Great North Road to Letchworth

An important proposal affecting Letchworth is for a road through the town from Graveley to Radwell, thus by-passing the Baldock section of the Great North Road. Beginning at Milksey Lane, Graveley, the route follows the existing track northwards to Willian, and from Willian through Letchworth via Norton Way, rejoining the Great North Road near Radwell. One of the chief reasons for recommending this road is that it would give direct communication between Letchworth and London in place of the circuitous route now in use.


**(1) Little Wymondley-Stotfold Highway

A new development road is under consideration by the Hitchin R.D.C., leaving the Great North Road at Little Wymondley and running parallel with the railway on the east side as far as Nine Springs, and thence northwards to join the Stotfold Highway, thus affording a through route to Arlesey and Bedford.

**(2) Hitchin Ring Road

The Hitchin U.D.C., in the Preliminary Statement for their town-planning scheme, have provided for a circumferential road passing round the outskirts of the town, with a width of 100 feet between the fences. The reservation of the route in question appears very desirable. The matter is now under the consideration of the Ministry of Health, who have intimated their general approval of the proposal, provided the road is sited as near to the town as practicable.


A general widening and improvement of this very important highway will have to be undertaken in the near future. A general width of 60 feet between hedges, with a building line of not less than 30 feet, is considered desirable. In addition to this, however, considerable local improvements are necessary and should be provided as opportunity arises, the more important being the following :-

**(1) Elstree By-Pass

To avoid the narrow and congested High Street of Elstree, and at the same time to improve the gradients of the main road, a by-pass is suggested on the west of Elstree. Leaving Watling Street at the junction with the new Watford By-pass, the proposed road passes on the east side of Aldenham Reservoir and rejoins the main road near Medburn Bridge.

**(2) St. Albans By-Passes

By-passes to St. Albans are proposed on the east and west, the North Orbital Road providing one on the south.


The main by-pass will constitute an improvement of Watling Street, which it leaves at the crossing of the North Orbital Road, between St. Stephens and Park Street, and skirting west of the old site of Verulamium, rejoins the Redbourn Road near Shafford Farm.

Example of Necessary Road Improvement
Cross Roads - St. Stephens



The eastern by-pass will leave the Barnet-St. Albans Road south of the City boundary and, utilising existing roads as far as possible, turning west to cross the railway at the Sandridge Road and joining the Luton Road just north of the City boundary.

**(3) Redbourn-Luton Road

An efficient link from Watling Street to Luton could be provided by the improvement and widening of the existing lane north-east of Redbourn. This proposal, in conjunction with St. Albans By-pass, would enable all through traffic from Luton to avoid the necessity of passing through St. Albans.


The construction of the Harrow-Watford Road and its proposed extension to the North Orbital Road near Hunton Bridge, will constitute a new southern section to the Watford-Aylesbury Road - an important link in the communications between London and Birmingham.

The present road through King's Langley, Berkhamsted and Tring is closely built up and difficult of improvement.

On the south side of Berkhamsted, the existing road following the higher levels parallel with the main road could be readily adapted as a supplementary route if slightly extended and improved.

At Tring there are possibilities of a by-pass road on the north side of the town, but the necessity for this is at present remote.


In the locality of Rickmansworth, in addition to the Colne Valley Road and North Orbital Road, both already mentioned, certain important proposals are made.

**(1) Batchworth Hill and Rickmansworth By-Pass

In order to avoid both Batchworth Hill and Rickmansworth, a new road is proposed from the Northwood Road on the Middlesex boundary, passing south-west of Batchworth Hill and Rickmansworth, to connect with Long Lane, which is widened and improved through Herons Gate to the County boundary in the direction of Amersham.

The South Bucks Regional Committee are considering a continuation of this road in their area.

**(2) Link with Chesham Road

A link from the North Orbital Road, immediately west of the River Chess, to the Chorleywood-Chesham Road is desirable and is favoured by the Buckinghamshire Regional Committee.

**(3) Rickmansworth Inner By-Pass

A short by-pass road from Frogmoor across the river meadows south-west of Rickmansworth has been under consideration by the Local Authority and although somewhat costly, owing to its difficult situation, this improvement should undoubtedly be carried out.

**(4) Rickmansworth Park

A useful improvement connecting the Chorleywood and Watford Roads on the north of Rickmansworth has already been included in the Rickmansworth Town Planning Scheme.

**(5) Harefield-Rickmansworth Road

In the West Middlesex Regional Scheme there is a proposal for linking up Harefield with Rickmansworth. A short length of the road proposed lies within the Region. It would join the proposal No.1 above at a point near Stockers Farm.


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The statutory areas of the various public water, gas and electricity undertakings in the County are shown in the following diagrams. It should be noted that in many cases the actual area of supply is limited to the developed districts, but as the demand arises, the mains and cables will be extended.

All the larger communities are well supplied with water and gas.

The electricity supply system, especially in the neighbourhood of the progressive districts of Letchworth and Welwyn, is also developing extensively. The day should not be far distant when electricity will be available everywhere in the County, except in the remotest districts.

Water Supply Areas

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Gas Supply Areas

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Electricity Supply Areas

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The water supply for the County is derived mainly from the chalk, and not from surface drainage.

The water catchments of the two principal rivers, the Colne and the Lee, are mainly responsible for the water supply of North-west and North London, whose water authorities pump water from almost every available source, and affect the water resources of the Region materially.

The unusually fine natural water supply of the County should be conserved, for as residential development will occur in various localities in future years it is essential for a sufficient local water supply to be reserved and maintained.

The larger towns and districts throughout the County are already provided with individual schemes of sewerage and sewage disposal, the effluent in these cases being discharged into one or other of the streams draining the natural watershed area of the district.

It has been carefully considered whether any combination of such drainage areas is possible or desirable, particularly in the southern portion of the County, where the rapid growth of population foreshadows even greater urban development in the near future.

It may well be that Joint Main Drainage for the lower portions of the Colne and Lee may eventually be necessary, but such a contingency is at present remote and the existing systems of sewage disposal appear to be adequate for many years to come.


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Modern Development

Central Aerophoto Co.


A good layout, good architecture and good materials are all necessary to form an attractive residential settlement. The ideal is in practice difficult of attainment, for although one owner may develop his land in a manner that is in every way desirable, another may entirely spoil the effect by erecting a group of ugly, incongruous houses, eyesores to the passer-by and damaging to the neighbouring property. The interests of the land developer, particularly of those with large estates, are in a general way similar to the interests of the public and of the Local Authority, and if the Local Authorities have a clear idea of what they want, i.e., a town plan, most of their aims can be fulfilled by agreement with the landowners. Cases, however, arise in which one small owner may be determined to carry out some pre-conceived idea of his own to the detriment of his neighbours and to the prejudice of the whole plan. In order to deal with such eventualities, it is interesting to examine what degree of control may be exercised by a town-planning Local Authority. In the first place, regulations as to housing density should be included in every town-planning scheme in order to prevent houses being built too closely packed together.

Such regulations are commonly framed so that not more than a certain number of houses can be built in a certain area, but the builder has the option of concentrating his houses to a limited degree in one portion of his estate, leaving the remainder as a green or laid out with tennis courts or otherwise preserved as an open space. Unless in exceptional circumstances it is recommended that in no part of the County should a maximum density of twelve houses per acre be exceeded, and in rural districts not more than eight houses on any one acre.
Height of
Appearance of

No less important than density is the question of character. By means of character zones it is possible to prohibit, for instance, the erection of warehouses, factories or other incongruous buildings in districts where residential development would be most suitable, or where such development has already begun. In this way a much-needed form of protection is given to the owners and builders of dwelling houses. Control of the height of buildings is also possible, and most town-planning Authorities have taken advantage of their powers in this respect when framing their schemes. The important question of appearance presents a more difficult problem. It is realised that much beautiful country is being spoilt by the erection of unsightly bungalows built of unsuitable materials, and many of the new roads that a year ago led through charming natural scenery are now rendered hideous by the rows of ugly little buildings that are springing up like mushrooms upon either side.


Aerofilms Ltd.



Central Aerophoto Co.



Surrey Flying Services .



Surrey Flying Services.


Some of the larger towns in various parts of England have clauses controlling the appearance of buildings in their own Acts of Parliament, and in the Model Clauses issued by the Ministry of Health provision is made for preventing the erection of large numbers of houses in one continuous block. The Ministry of Health have also prepared for use in suitable cases a clause which is reproduced below.


Clause of
Ministry of

(1) Any person intending to erect a building in any existing or proposed street within Zones shall furnish the Council (in addition to any plans and particulars required to be submitted under the By-laws and Local Acts), with drawings of the elevations of the building, together with a specification or other sufficient indication of the materials to be used in those parts of the building which are comprised in the elevations.

The drawings shall be upon suitable and durable material to a scale of not less than one inch to every 8 feet, except that, where the building is so extensive as to render a smaller scale necessary, it shall suffice if the elevations are drawn to a scale of not less than one inch to every 16 feet.

(2) For the purpose of assisting the Council in the exercise of the power of approving or disapproving elevations hereinafter conferred a standing Advisory Committee of three members (in this clause called "the Advisory Committee") shall be constituted for the Area, of whom one member shall be a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects to be nominated by the President of the said Institute, one member shall be a Fellow of the Surveyors' Institution to be nominated by the President of the said Institution and one member shall be a Justice of the Peace to be nominated by the Council;

Provided that a member of the Council shall be disqualified from being a member of the Advisory Committee.

(3) Subject as aforesaid the members of the Advisory Committee shall be appointed by the Council and any vacancy occurring on the Advisory Committee shall be filled by the Council on the nomination of the person or body by whom the member causing the vacancy was nominated. The Council may pay the members of the Advisory Committee such reasonable fees and expenses as the Council think fit.

(4) The Council shall within one month after the submission to them of any elevations:-

(A) Approve the elevations; or

(B) If they consider that having regard to the general character of the existing buildings in the street or of the buildings proposed therein to be erected the buildings to which the elevations relate would seriously disfigure the street, whether by reason of the height of the building (notwithstanding that the height conforms with the requirements of Clause ......) or the design of the building, or the materials proposed to be used in its construction, refer the question of the approval of the elevations to the Advisory Committee for their decision thereon, and the reference shall be accompanied by a statement of the grounds on which the proposed building is considered to be objectionable.

(5) The Council shall forthwith send notice in writing to the person by whom the elevations were submitted of their approval thereof, or, if the building is considered to be objectionable on any of the grounds mentioned in this Clause, of the reference of the elevations to the Advisory Committee, and the notice shall be accompanied by a statement of the objections to the building.

(A) The person by whom the elevations were submitted shall within fourteen days of his receiving notice of the reference of the Advisory Committee be entitled to send to the Advisory Committee a statement of his answers to the objections of the Council, and, if he does so, he shall at the same time send a copy thereof to the Clerk to the Council.

(B) The Advisory Committee shall, within one month after the receipt of the reference, decide whether, having regard to the considerations mentioned in paragraph (4) (B) of this Clause, they approve or disapprove the elevations, and their decision shall be final and conclusive. The Advisory Committee shall not, however, disapprove the elevations on any other grounds than these specified in the Council's statement of objections hereinbefore referred to without first giving not less than ten days' notice of their intention to the person submitting the elevations and the Council, and hearing any representations which either party may make to them before the expiration of the notice.

Subject as aforesaid the Advisory Committee, in arriving at their decision, may adopt such procedure as they think fit, and, if the elevations are disapproved, the decision of the Advisory Committee shall contain a statement of the grounds on which the proposed building is considered to be objectionable.

(7) The decision of the Advisory Committee shall be in writing signed by them, and a copy of the decision shall as soon as may be after the determination of the reference be sent to the Council and to the person by whom the elevations were submitted.

(8) In the event of a division of opinion among the members of the Advisory Committee upon reference to them, the matter shall be decided by a majority of votes of the members of the Committee, but, save as aforesaid, the Advisory Committee shall act by their whole number.

(A) No building shall be erected the elevations of which have been disapproved under this Clause.

(B) No building shall be erected in any existing or proposed street in Zones ...... the elevations of which have not been approved under this Clause, except where the Council or the Advisory Committee, as the case may be, have not given a decision under Sub-Clauses (4) and (6) within the periods fixed therein for the purpose.

(10) The costs of any reference to the Advisory Committee shall be paid as the Advisory Committee may direct. Where such costs or part thereof are payable by the person submitting the elevations, they shall be recoverable by the Council summarily as a civil debt, and, where such costs or part thereof are payable by the Council, they shall be recoverable by the person submitting the elevations in the like manner.

(11) The provisions of this Clause shall not apply to any building exempt from the operation of the By-laws with respect to new streets and buildings made by the Council on ............ and confirmed by the Minister on ............. under paragraphs* ............... of By-law .............. thereof, so long as those buildings continue to be exempt from those By-laws or any By-laws of a like kind which may be substituted therefor.

* Paragraphs corresponding to paragraphs (A) to (I) of model Bylaws 2 of Urban Series.
Grouping of

Another point to be considered is that of grouping. Long lines of buildings on either side of main roads are unsightly, are disadvantageous from the social point of view, and bring the houses into intimate contact with the noise, dust and danger of the highways. It is much better to encourage group development, under which system the houses are planned to form a definite residential settlement with quiet roads wide enough for their purpose but not with the expensive roads needed for through traffic. The practice of building continuously along main and arterial roads will obviously tend to defeat the purpose of these highways, and some means must be devised of providing public services for group development at the same cost as is possible for buildings fronting on the main roads.

The matter is one for mutual arrangement between the various Public Service Companies, the Local Authorities and the prospective developer, and needs urgent consideration.
Breaking the
Building Line

With a little encouragement, builders may often be persuaded to set back from the building line a small group of houses. In this way, variety is lent to the street at little expense to the builder or to the community.

If small wayside greens could occasionally be left at the side of the highway, with the cottages set well back from the road, approached by a narrow service road on the edge of the green, a vast improvement would be effected in our roadside landscapes.

In the Regional area here considered there are numerous opportunities of enriching the life and amenities of smaller or larger settlements. Every village has its old church and school, its interesting main street, and its picturesque gardens. Farming is the predominant industry, but other forms of work are frequently found even in remote places. Villages and small towns need not shun the introduction of local industries so long as they come under proper control, and with the extension of electric power, the chances for light industries will be multiplied.

Old Types of Development



Hemel Hempstead


It is never too soon to begin thinking about the future form of existing communities, and to take care that the provision of open spaces is not neglected. In the larger villages green belts of a protective character should be planned, so that in case of industrial or residential development congestion is avoided.

But there are more ambitious modes of providing for the future. We have to remember the proximity of London, and that every important increase in the urban development in the County must bear some relation to the great city. Any new town in Hertfordshire will, in fact, be a "satellite" to London. It will be drawn towards the Metropolis by its railways, roads and interests, but to be a true satellite it must take care to keep its distance and remain self-contained.

Meaning of

"A garden city is a town designed for healthy living and industry; of a size that makes possible a full measure of social life, but not larger; surrounded by a rural belt; the whole of the land being in public ownership, or held in trust for the community." So runs the definition adopted by the Garden Cities and Town Planning Association, and Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City demonstrate the principle.

One of the chief cares of the town-planner has always been to separate dwelling- houses from industries, and, indeed, the policy of the past under which home and factory were closely crowded together, is entirely indefensible. There is, however, a limit beyond which it is not wise to go in dividing the residential from the industrial development.
The Difficulties
that face

London is growing by a series of unrelated accretions and suburb after suburb is being added to the central mass and is gradually absorbed into one vast spreading urban area. And inevitably the congestion at the centre grows. There is also the problem of transport between the residential areas outside and the business quarter at the centre. Money, time and health are sacrificed daily in the rush to and from the City. Economic pressure has recently pointed the way to a saner type of development; heavy rates and exorbitant prices for land have forced industrial concerns to choose sites outside the London area. Sites for factories are usually selected for purely economic reasons, either beside the railways or the canals or else in areas that have been specially planned for industries. At Letchworth, for instance, forethought and careful planning have provided an area particularly suited to industry, and about fifty factories and workshops are now contained within it.

Letchworth - Broadway leading to Town Square

Aerofilms Ltd.

has Suitable
Site must be
Suitable for

The industrial area in this garden city is so arranged as to be in no way detrimental to the residential quarter of the town, although the houses are near enough to be within easy walking or cycling distance of the factories. As Letchworth and Welwyn have proved, Hertfordshire provides an eminently suitable field for enterprise in the founding of garden cities or satellite towns. It is near London and has excellent communication with it by road, by rail and by canal. Easy access to London is one of the chief requirements for the success of a new industrial town, for although there is a tendency towards the decentralisation of industry, there is, on the contrary, no likelihood that the chief industrialists themselves will move from their offices in the City. There is another reason for encouraging industrial communities in the area round London rather than elsewhere, for by doing so those industries which would otherwise find sites in the Metropolitan Area may be located outside to the relief of congestion and to the general benefit of the community. It is clear that in choosing a site for a satellite town the needs of industry must first be considered, because if the location is not attractive to industrialists no industries will be founded there and the scheme will prove abortive from the outset. Good communications are essential by railway, by road or by canal; cheap electric power and an ample water supply should also be provided. In addition, there should be plenty of land available for extension and near the industrial area there must be a healthy and attractive site for housing those the industries employ.

When a new town is planned beforehand, it is quite possible to avoid most, or even all, the disadvantages usually associated with industrial development, and to make a place that is attractive to the eye and healthy to live in.

Welwyn Garden City

The interesting summary given below of recent developments in Welwyn Garden City illustrates the rapid progress that is possible in a well-organised satellite town.

The growth of Welwyn Garden City during the current year has been more rapid than in any previous period of its history. The population in 1921 was only 328. On 1st October, 1926, it was 4,077. On 1st October, 1927, it was 6,149, an increase of over 2,000, or more than 50 per centum in twelve months. The rateable value has increased during the year from £38,939 to £47,434.

Over 240 houses have been let since 1st January at an annual rental of nearly £13,000, while houses have been sold on 999 year leases at an aggregate figure of about £23,000.

Welwyn Garden City - Residential Area

Aerofilms Ltd.


The grant of Urban Powers in April, 1927, has been fully justified. The improved administration has not caused any increase of the local rates, though the novel policy of surfacing roads at the expense of the District without making any charge on frontages has been continued. The rates for the current half-year are 6s. in the £, a reduction of 4d. on last half-year.

Industrial development is showing signs of more rapid expansion. The new industries that have taken factories or sites during the year include ironfoundry, printing, corset-making, nursery food production, brick-making, machinery production, and a model electric bakery. The existing companies have also extended their premises. Sectional factories have been erected for letting to suitable industries, and this new departure has created much interest and facilitated the establishment of small and moderate-sized works.

The growth of population has necessitated considerable developments in the public service undertakings, including Electricity, Gas and Water Supplies, and in recreational facilities.

Electrical progress has been phenomenal. Every house in the town has electricity available. There are 1,753 consumers, of whom about 300 do all their cooking by this means. The consumption of electricity has increased by 100 per centum in the past year. As a result of the encouragement given to domestic demand, the undertaking has a load factor of nearly 40 per centum for the year.

Sports and amusements have been catered for by the provision of a number of additional cricket and football grounds, hockey fields, and hard tennis courts, and by the building of a new Theatre and Picture-house with a seating capacity of about 1,200. A new Club-house has been erected for Boys' and Girls' Clubs and other social purposes. The Golf Course has been extended to 18 holes.

Shopping facilities are keeping pace with the growth of population. The area of the premises of the central departmental stores has been more than doubled; a first-class bakery has been erected, and a model dairy and bottling plant which ensures a perfectly clean milk supply for the town.

Educational arrangements have also greatly extended. The first County School has been doubled in size, and a second County School opened in the Clubhouse pending the erection of the new school buildings. A new Preparatory School for boys, and a High School for girls has been started, and two other schools have been extended.

Two Banks, at present in temporary buildings, are about to commence the erection of their permanent premises.

The train service has been greatly improved since the opening of the new main line station, and certain trains now do the journey in 30 minutes. The number of passengers booked at the station has increased from 1,382 in 1920 to 91,628 in the first 8 months of this year. Season tickets issued have increased from 24 in 1920 to 2,412 in the first 8 months of the year 1927.

In addition to a great variety of residential properties on 999 years' lease, ranging in value from £600 to £3,000, many houses have been erected in Welwyn Garden City for letting at weekly and yearly rents. For a new scheme of 102 houses, primarily intended for local workers, a tender at £310 per house has been obtained, which will enable the houses to be let at 10s. per week.


As its name implies, the dormitory town is primarily a place where people sleep, and not a place where people work. It is, in effect, a suburb, but a suburb town-planned and well laid out, surrounded by open spaces and having a definite social life and entity of its own, being in this respect far superior to the usual type of suburb which is simply a continuation of a large city with no definite boundaries and little local unity. The dormitory town is unlike the Garden City as it is not self-contained and does not relieve industrial congestion. Nevertheless, a well-laid-out dormitory town can provide attractive and healthy homes for London's workers. In choosing a site for such a town, the chief desiderata are a quick railway service to and from London, a healthy site where land is not dear, and pleasant surroundings. One of the chief characteristics of the ideal dormitory town is the belt of open land which surrounds it, and it is important that near the site chosen extensive public open spaces should either be already in existence or else that it should be possible to procure them without undue expense owing to the low value of the land or to the generosity of the landlords.
Founding a
Satellite or

There are various methods by which satellite or dormitory towns may be founded. In several parts of England large industrial concerns have built factories on vacant land, and near them laid out garden villages to house their workpeople. In other cases companies have been formed for the same purpose, and laws nave now been passed to aid approved associations or local authorities to establish garden cities. This legislation has been recently consolidated in Section 16 of the Town Planning Act, 1925, which provides for the advancement of loans and the compulsory acquisition of land.

As a first step towards the foundation of a satellite or dormitory town, a Local Authority can, without buying the land, schedule it for its appropriate purpose under a town-planning scheme, and so gradually bring into being a dormitory or satellite town.


London tends more and more to become the principal shopping centre for the whole of the Home Counties, but, side by side with this tendency, the growth and expansion of local shopping centres is a marked characteristic of the County.

The old-established centres each cater for a large surrounding area and with the continued growth of population and improved means of transit there can be little doubt that such centres will continue in prosperity and importance.

With their ancient traditions and steadily improving facilities, such towns form an ideal nucleus for a prosperous and self-contained satellite town.

The five principal centres of the County are probably Watford, St. Albans, Hertford and Ware, Hitchin, Bishop's Stortford. In these centres will naturally concentrate much of the business of the County, and it is recommended that in the detailed planning of these towns, particular attention should be given to their function as district shopping and commercial centres, to the encouragement of suitable local industries and the provision of requisite open spaces, including, where possible,. the reservation of a definite agricultural belt surrounding the town.

Existing Market Towns
The existing market towns in the County are as follows :-
  Western Area   Watford, Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted
  Central Area   St. Albans
  Lee Valley   Hertford, Ware, Hoddesdon
  Northern Area   Hitchin, Baldock, Royston
  Eastern Area
  Barnet, Bishop's Stortford, Buntingford


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Aldbury Common - Ashridge Park

Open Spaces
of Cost

The recent acquisition of Ashridge Park as the result of a national appeal by the past and present Prime Ministers, shows how strong an appeal the preservation of the countryside has for the average Englishman. The reservation of Regional Open Spaces, comprising comparatively large tracts of unspoilt country, should be a definite policy for the future. Such open spaces set a limit to urban development and ensure that certain areas at least will retain their rural character. Incidentally, they add greatly to the value of the neighbouring land, for they act as a powerful magnet in attracting residents. Besides being of the greatest benefit to those living near them, such open spaces are very largely enjoyed by people living at a distance, serving not only the district in which they are situated, but the surrounding Region as well. It is only equitable that the cost of acquiring or preserving such Regional Open Spaces should be spread over as large an area as possible.

In considering what land should be scheduled for reservation, two main points have to be considered, the suitability of the land for the purpose, and the question of cost. The recognised beautiful places will obviously have first claim for preservation. The viewpoints and the ancient parks, the woods and the hills, suggest themselves, and in every locality there is something of outstanding interest. The cost of any large tract of land in the immediate neighbourhood of building development might well be prohibitive and generally land outside the radius of building development should, where possible, be selected. It is, of course, possible to effect a large saving in the initial outlay if the land is scheduled as a private, rather than a public open space. In this case, all that is purchased is the ultimate building value of the land, if any. On the other hand, this method does not in itself give much advantage to the public of to-day for the people have no right of access to such private open space; they can only enjoy its beauties from a distance. But it is quite possible to combine the method of purchasing the land outright (public open space) with that of purchasing its building value (private open space). The richer agricultural land would be left to the farmer, and existing rights-of-way improved, or new ones made by agreement, to allow the public to traverse the farm land on their way to the public open spaces further on. These would be spots selected for their beauty, as, for instance, a viewpoint, and with due regard to their low agricultural value. By a wise application of these two principles, a true solution of the problem of open spaces in Hertfordshire may be found.
Mid-County Green Belt
The Green

The question of the provision of open spaces in the County is greatly influenced by the proximity of London, and with this in view one of the most important recommendations is for the reservation of a Green Belt across the County following the line of the Colne Valley from Rickmansworth and Watford to Hatfield, then eastwards to the Lee Valley, and southwards to the County boundary, where it is hoped that other Authorities will co-operate in preserving as much as possible of the Lee Valley. This fine project, if carried out, would form part of a continuous open tract of country surrounding London, and would be of the greatest benefit to the Metropolis as well as to the County of Hertford.

Among the open spaces included in the green belt are the two river valleys, the banks of the New River, and the woods of Wormley, Cowheath and Broxbourne. Among the private open spaces are Hatfield Park, Millwards and Bedwell Park and the beautiful grounds of Haileybury College.
Middlesex Boundary Belt

In conjunction with the North Middlesex Regional Committee the possibility of reserving a chain of open spaces along the southern boundary of the County has been considered. By a joint scheme linking up the detached open spaces and golf courses extending from Moor Park to Hadley Woods, it will be possible to provide a continuous rural area separating Hertfordshire from the northern outskirts of London.

Aldenham Reservoir - Elstree

Aerofilms Ltd.


This line of open spaces includes the following :- Moor Park, Sandy Lodge Golf Course, Oxhey Golf Course, Hartsbourne Manor and Harrow Weald Common, Stanmore Common, Aldenham Reservoir, thence in Middlesex along the southern slope of the Elstree Ridge to Arkley, and then via the golf course north of Barnet, rejoining the Middlesex area at Wrotham Park. It is proposed by the Middlesex Committee to continue the chain of open spaces eastwards to the Lee Valley and Epping Forest.

The question of providing open spaces is far more urgent in the southern districts of the County, the tendency being for this area to become too solidly developed. The formation of belts of open space to divide the rapidly developing areas should be encouraged.

In these southern districts the principal open spaces considered include a part of Oxhey Woods, a reservation adjoining Harrow Weald Common on the North Middlesex boundary, an area of land on the margin of Aldenham Reservoir and the banks of Pymme's Brook, East Barnet.

It is gratifying to know that already, in various parts of the County, landowners are offering to enter into an agreement which will secure, without compensation or cost to the public, the permanent preservation of many invaluable private open spaces.

The County is rich in ancient mansions, each with its well-matured park and private woodlands, and the public-spirited owners are in many cases anxious to preserve these heritages for the future, if only ways and means can be found.

Linked up with the Green Belt already mentioned, there are a number of important private parks which every effort should be made to preserve. The general position of these is indicated on the map showing the Regional proposals, but in addition to these, there are many detached open spaces of this character, well distributed, even in the more developed portions of the County, and it should be the aim of each Local Authority with the co-operation of the landowner to secure the permanent preservation of one or more of these open spaces.

One of the readiest and most practical means of preserving open spaces in the vicinity of towns is by means of the private golf course. Such open spaces, whether in public or private ownership, can be made to pay at any rate a reasonable interest on the cost of their acquisition. Should they acquire a building value, there is, however, a temptation to dispose of such open spaces, and the earliest opportunity should therefore be taken to secure their permanent preservation, as has already been success fully accomplished by the Barnet Urban District Council.

The principal golf courses in the County are :-
  Arkley (Barnet)   Letchworth
  Berkhamsted   Moor Park
  Bishop's Stortford   Old Ford Manor (Hadley Green)
  Boxmoor   Oxhey Grange
  Broxbourne   Porters Park, Radlett
  Bushey Hall   Sandy Lodge
  East Herts (Hertford)   South Herts (Totteridge)
  Grims Dyke   Verulam, St. Albans
  Hartsbourne Manor   West Herts (Cassiobury Park)
  Welwyn Garden City

In allocating land to industrial purposes the important question of the possible pollution of rivers and watercourses by the wastes from manufactories should be considered, the powers given to the Authorities by the Rivers Pollution Prevention Acts being fully used. In this connection the Lee and Thames Conservancy Boards are rendering valuable services.

The banks of streams in every district in the Region should, wherever possible, be preserved, both as a protection of the purity of the water or to serve as pleasure walks.

The towing paths along the waterways could also advantageously be made permanently public.

To act as a link between greater open spaces the foundation of Park Ways is worthy of consideration. When some of the secondary roads are widened it might be possible to retain parts of the hedges of the old lanes with their trees and a grass margin, constituting a pleasant alternative to the extreme formality of the tree-planted arterial roads.

The principal existing commons in the County are as follows :-
  Aldbury   Hertford Heath
  Bricket Wood   Hartham (Hertford)
  Broxbourne   Harpenden
  Cheshunt Marshes   High Heath (Codicote)
  Chipperfield (near King's Langley)   No Man's Land (Wheathampstead)
  Chorleywood   Oughtonhead Common (Hitchin)
  Gaddesden   Sheethanger (Hemel Hempstead)
  Great Berkhamsted and Northchurch.   Therfield Heath (Royston)
  Hadley Woods   Walsworth Common (Hitchin)

These appear to have been left as open spaces since the time the country was enclosed. Many of the original commons, as in the neighbourhood of Harpenden, were enclosed some time before 1817, when corn was so dear owing to the Napoleonic wars that every available piece of land capable of growing wheat had value.

Ashridge Park, Berkhamsted, 1,700 acres. Frithsden Beeches and Little Heath, 47 acres.

One of the finest open spaces acquired by the National Trust lies on the western boundary of the County, north of Berkhamsted. This area comprises a magnificent stretch of downland, heath and wood, and includes the northern part of Ashridge Park Estate. Berkhamsted and Northchurch Commons adjoining on the south also covers a wide and beautiful area.

It will be noted that the bulk of the existing public open spaces are concentrated in the extreme west of the County.

It is essential that further areas should be reserved in the near future, especially in the southern portion of the County, where building development is proceeding rapidly.

Cassiobury Park, Watford, 168 acres. Oxhey Park, Watford, 25 acres.

Moor Park Estate, Rickmansworth, have recently given an excellent example to other landowners by the setting aside of 50 acres for a permanent open space.
exist in most of the urban districts throughout the County.
Playing Fields

It is now generally conceded that every inhabitant of every English town or village should have the opportunity of out-door exercise. In the past too little thought has been given to the question of playing fields, with the result that in most existing towns the people are actually discouraged in their choice to play games by the small number of grounds available or the distance that must be travelled to reach them. Latterly, many attempts have been made to mitigate this serious evil, and public bodies have devoted funds to the purchase and upkeep of playing fields, while numerous private industrial concerns, recognising the grave shortage that exists, have themselves provided grounds for their workpeople, and are rewarded with the increased efficiency, contentment and esprit de corps of their employees. A limited number of playing fields can also be rented from private owners near most towns and villages and these fields largely supply the demands of those who can afford their rent, but these temporary tenancies are short-lived and exist only to be submerged a few years later beneath the advancing tide of bricks and mortar
Methods of

In spite of the various ways in which the demand for playing fields is being met at present, the shortage is so acute that it becomes a matter of primary concern to all Local Authorities and their efforts in this direction will be ably seconded by the recently-formed National Playing Fields Association. The most satisfactory way in which a Local Authority can provide for the needs of the people in this respect is, of course, to purchase the required land outright for public use. This method has the advantage of supplying the need immediately, but is sometimes found impracticable on the score of cost. Under the Town Planning Act of 1925 an alternative is now possible to Local Authorities who are preparing a town-planning scheme, whereby land not already built upon may be scheduled as a Private Open Space. The effect of this procedure is to impose upon the land a restriction against building, but the land still remains in the hands of the private owner. If the land is ripe for development, such a restriction would clearly be injurious to the owner, who is compensated accordingly, but as in every county there exist large areas of land which are never likely to have a building value, the compensation payable in respect of such land will be negligible. By adopting this method a Local Authority have it in their power to preserve at a small cost the playing fields belonging to private owners and to ensure that such areas will never be covered by buildings. It is suggested that a general basis of one acre of playing fields or sports ground to every two hundred persons should be adopted.
Children's Playgrounds

The question of small playgrounds for the children, especially in the towns, should also be considered. It is only too common in most large towns to see small children playing in the street for lack of cottage gardens or of playgrounds within easy reach. The need for playgrounds is felt particularly in areas covered by the older type of cottage property where a small yard or the street are the only alternatives offered to the children for their games. The first essential of such a playground is that it should be within easy reach of the home. There is no need that the areas set apart for children should be large; they should be pieces of ground of an acre or so in extent scattered throughout the districts where congested housing conditions obtain, and, if possible, not more than five minutes' walk from the homes of the children who use them.

Allotments not only provide a means of healthy exercise for a population largely engaged in sedentary occupations, but are also directly beneficial to the Nation, as many acres of land that might otherwise remain untilled are cultivated by the allotment holders. As in the case of playgrounds for children, the need for allotments is greatest where the population is thickest, particularly where rows of cottages exist closely packed together. With modern standards of density under which each house has at least a small plot of ground, the demand for allotments may be somewhat less. The selection of land for allotments is not a matter that can be dealt with in a Regional Report, but must be decided upon in each individual town-planning scheme. It is, however, suggested for consideration that on an average one allotment of 10 square rods should be allowed for every four houses at the maximum density, and that some further allowance on a less generous scale might be made for the houses that are less closely packed.


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Necessity for Control of Advertisements



Hoardings and certain other forms of advertisements when erected in the wrong place can effectively destroy any pleasing effect, and Local Authorities will be well advised to take such steps as they can to control advertisements. The powers of control are not very complete, but it is much easier to enforce restrictions before, and not after, an actual case arises. Power to make by-laws are contained in the Advertisement Regulation Acts, and control is also possible under the Town Planning Act of 1925. Several County Councils, including Hertfordshire, have made by laws dealing with the question of advertisements, by which they will be able to prevent billposting hoardings from disfiguring the landscape.


With the rapid growth of motor traffic the roads of the County are often disfigured by garish petrol stations and garages. No doubt it is an advantage to motorists to be able to see these establishments at some distance along the road, but it is not necessary for them to offend public taste by calling attention to their presence.

The Committee hopes the Local Authorities will devise means to bring offending petrol stations under the control of their by-laws or to amend such by laws if their present powers are insufficient. The colours of the paints used to cover the pumps are sometimes inappropriate to the surroundings and unpleasant to the opposite neighbours, while the badly arranged advertisements on the buildings add to the spoliation of the country roads.

There are to be found some excellent examples of garages and petrol stations, and it is to the general advantage that those of the County of Hertford should be both pleasant and attractive.


Roadside Tree Planting

Urban Tree Planting


St. Albans

Formal Planting


Informal Planting


Many a long, straight stretch of main road otherwise dull and uninteresting may be converted into a beautiful avenue if trees are planted on either side. Public recognition of this fact has led to legislation (Roads Improvement Act, 1925, sec. 1) enabling a Highway Authority to plant and maintain trees, shrubs or grass alongside the roads for which it is responsible. There are many pieces of road in the County of Hertford that would benefit distinctly from such treatment at no more than a trifling cost to the community, and it is urged that in suitable cases advantage should immediately be taken of the new powers vested in the Highway Authority. Straight lengths of road would benefit most from being planted with trees, particularly where the road is flat and otherwise uninteresting, as a fine avenue effect can be so obtained. Planting a crooked road is not so effective, and there is a danger that the trees may eventually grow so as to obscure the view across bends in the road. Where open roads without hedges lead across chalk downs, as is sometimes the case in the northern part of the County, the character of the country would lose, and not gain, from the planting of trees. The type of tree to be selected will, of course, depend largely on the nature of the soil, but information is readily available as to the best type of tree to meet the conditions of any particular case.

Special attention is given in the Model Clauses issued by the Ministry of Health to the question of preserving existing trees. There are in many parts of the County places whose character largely depends upon a particular group of trees or even upon an individual tree; if the trees are cut down the spirit of the place is gone and the loss is discovered too late. But it is now possible for a town-planning Local Authority to schedule such trees against destruction and so preserve them.


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Areas of Town-Planning Schemes

(click the above image to enlarge)

The diagram opposite [above] shows in graphic form the progress already made by Local Authorities with town-planning schemes in the County.
The following is a summary of the statutory areas thus being dealt with :-
City of St. Albans.
Borough of Watford.
Barnet Urban District, including portion of Barnet Rural District and South Mimms Rural District (Middlesex).
Bishop's Stortford Urban District and Hadham Rural District.
Bushey Urban District and Watford (Rural) Joint Town Planning Committee.
Chorleywood Urban District.
East Barnet Valley Urban District.
Great Berkhamsted Urban District.
Harpenden Urban District.
Hitchin Urban District.
Hitchin Rural District.
Mid-Herts Joint Town Planning Committee, comprising the Parishes of Datchworth and Tewin in the Hertford Rural District, the Parishes of Knebworth, Codicote and Shephall in the Hitchin Rural District, and the Rural District of Welwyn.
Rickmansworth Urban District.
Mention must also be made of the Garden City Estates at Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City.

The excellent example of estate development set by Lord Lytton at Knebworth, and the commencement which has been made at Brookmans Park, in a smaller estate development of the same character, are specially worthy of note.


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The Committee having reached the conclusion that the trend of development in the County should eventually take the form of a number of self-contained towns of reasonable size, the intervening country being preserved in its rural state, the question arises as to the steps that could be taken to encourage this form of development.

In the first place, considerable tracts of country should be preserved for ever in their agricultural condition for the use and pleasure of future generations. This can be done at a cost which will amply repay the County in the future. The policy is that of purchasing from the owners of scheduled areas the future building value of these areas, possession of the land being retained by the present owners with, in some instances, certain limited rights of access to the public being conceded. The compensation payable to existing owners in consideration of their thus foregoing future building value would be the equivalent to a comparatively small charge on the County rate for the advantages obtained. The owners, in receiving compensation for the restriction on the use of the land, would in most cases receive a capital sum, which, invested at compound interest, would amount to at least as large a sum at the future date when the land might otherwise be ripe for development as they would be likely to receive at that date as building value, after taking into account the capital that would have to be spent to give services to the land and place it upon the market.

For example, the owner of an estate of, say, 500 acres within the restricted areas might be awarded a sum of £10 an acre for the placing of a restriction against building development upon it. It is probable that the owner would prefer to be in the possession of £5,000 to-day rather than wait for the problematical advance of London in his particular direction, and the cutting up of his estate for building purposes; while he would have the satisfaction of knowing that the County as a whole would benefit for ever by the existence of large rural sanctuaries freed from the risk of falling into the hands of the speculative builder. The time to carry out such a plan - of far-reaching benefit to the community and to landowners as a whole - is to-day, while London is still confined to the south of the County and the prospects of extensive developments northwards are still remote. Every year that passes will make such a scheme more difficult until it would become finally impossible. The present opportunity of safeguarding the rural character of considerable areas within the county should not be lost.

The existence of such rural belts would tend to send up the value of land made available for building development, and would help towards the formulation of a policy of concentrating development in specific areas. The aggregate financial effect upon land would probably be an increase of total value due to a more systematic and economical use than takes place at present.

The next question is what steps can be taken to develop adequately-planned new towns in suitable positions in the County. It is essential that the sites for such towns shall be selected in relation to the Regional plan, and that such questions as water supply, main drainage and transport facilities shall be fully considered in their Regional aspect.
Section 16 (1) of the Town Planning Act 1925 provides :-

"Where the Minister is satisfied that any local authority (including a county council) or two or more local authorities jointly, or any authorised association, are prepared to purchase and develop, in accordance with a scheme approved by the Minister -

(A) Any land as a garden city (including a garden suburb or garden village)

(B) Any land in regard to which a town-planning scheme may be made;

and have funds available for the purpose, he may, with the consent of the Treasury and after consultation with the Board of Trade, the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, and the Minister of Transport, acquire that land on behalf of the authority or association either by compulsion or by agreement in any case in which it appears to him necessary or expedient so to do for the purpose of securing the development of the land as aforesaid, and may do all such things as may be necessary to vest the land so acquired in the local authority or association."
This section would seem to give sufficient powers to the County Council for themselves to take action in the matter.

Acting under these powers the County Council could, if they thought fit, purchase large areas of land and develop them in conjunction with the Local Authority or, alternatively, the County Council could set up a separate Corporate Body under the Companies Acts or the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts to initiate and develop the building of a new town, or the extension of a suitable existing town or village. They could purchase the land (compulsorily if necessary), lease or sell it to the Society and finance it under the Housing Acts by making grants or loans or by subscribing for shares, or by guaranteeing the interest on shares or loans. The constitution of the Society could provide for control by the County Council and for the surplus profits to be paid to the County Council.

The development of towns by private enterprise has been exemplified in this County at Letchworth and Welwyn. Both these garden cities have been built as private enterprises, and have met with sufficient success to prove the feasibility and practicability of the policy of planting new towns in virgin areas. Both Companies have been hampered in their operations by the intrinsic difficulty of raising adequate capital at a low rate of interest, having regard to the necessarily slow rate of fructification in the provision of public services on a scale which is rendered necessary by future rather than immediate development. Both the undertakings are being carried out by private individuals who carry the financial risks upon their own shoulders and accept the whole burden involved, while voluntarily depriving themselves of any private profit or advantage. Moreover, it does not seem to be necessary or even advisable to repeat the process upon precisely similar lines financially to those adopted in the early experiments. The experimental stage is passed and a bolder and more deliberate policy is now demanded.

There would seem to be little doubt that the County Council could with some measure of prudence guarantee an issue of Stock for the purpose of developing a town or towns in suitable areas, and that although in the early years there would inevitably be a gap between revenue and debt charges such gap would be bridged within a decade and the early deficits which would have to be met temporarily out of capital be made good out of later revenues.

The County Council has every reason to support development upon these lines in the interests of the ratepayers of the County. The establishment of new industrial towns of limited population from 25,000 to 50,000 inhabitants would be to the advantage of the County, adding to the County rateable value and increasing local prosperity and providing the most effective means of checking the extension of London as a solid mass into the County. The assessable value of Letchworth for County Rate purposes has increased from approximately £4,000 in 1903 to £70,578 in 1925, and of Welwyn Garden City from £2,852 in 1920 to £18,653 in 1925, and to £47,434 in 1927.
It does not appear that any additional statutory powers are necessary to enable such work to be undertaken by the County.

It has already been announced that the Treasury has agreed to extend the powers of the Trade Facilities Acts to manufacturers who are prepared to transfer their works from London, and with the County Council behind a project of this kind the reasonable immigration of population into the rural areas of the County will be made possible on sound lines which will lead not to the indiscriminate urbanisation of the County, but to its economic development on progressive, healthy and remunerative lines.


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The Aims
of the
Support of

In drawing up the foregoing Report the aim has been to present, first, a careful survey of conditions in the County as they exist to-day or have existed in the past; and secondly, to deduce from a consideration of that survey the best means for guiding the future development of the County. It may be well to reiterate here that the Report is in itself of a purely advisory character, and it is only by the willing co-operation of the individual Local Authorities that the labours of the Regional Committee can be brought, to fruition.

For the scheme to be successful, it must be supported by public opinion, and although the Committee feel that the Regional Scheme will meet with general commendation from that section of the public which understands the true aims of town planning, yet there must be a large proportion of the population of the County to whom the real significance of the words "town planning" are unknown. Publicity and education are needed to enlist the support of the majority, and to encourage them to become active supporters of the aims of Regional Planning, and to foster a spirit of local patriotism and pride in the County of Hertford.

In submitting this Report for the Regional Planning of the County, the Committee recognise that they have no power to pledge the County Council or any Local Authority to carry the proposals into effect. They trust, however, that the Recommendations contained in the Report will be of service both to the County Council and the Local Authorities in carrying out their duties with regard to both Regional and Town Planning.




2nd December, 1927.